Is soda good for your health? It sounds like a trick question, but we found this statement online: “Soft drinks play a positive role in a balanced diet. As well as a balanced diet and active lifestyle, fluid intake is also important to good health.”
That’s the British Soft Drinks Association talking. It’s in their best interests to convince consumers that sodas are healthy, or at least harmless. In fact, soft drinks like Coke or Sprite have no health benefits at all.
This is the most frequently mentioned health benefit of soft drinks: they contain water. It is true that they contain water, but so does…water. Plain or sparkling water is a better choice for hydration.
However, it is not true that soda is dehydrating. The caffeine in soda can be a diuretic — a substance that makes you urinate more –so it’s not as hydrating as water, but it doesn’t literally dehydrate you.
Some people dislike plain water and find it hard to drink enough liquids if they don’t drink sodas. That’s a habit that’s worth changing. Try sparkling water, and add a splash of juice. Gradually cut back the juice till you’re just drinking water.
The second most commonly mentioned benefit of soda is energy. Food energy means calories. Sodas, apart from diet sodas, contain calories. So they provide energy.
Where does the energy come from? From sugar.
Sugary drinks are the single largest source of sugar and empty calories for Americans. They do provide sugar, but they can also produce a quick blood sugar spike followed by a crash.
Multiple studies connect soda consumption with obesity, diabetes, and other health issues. Kids who drink soda are also less likely to drink milk, and lose out on nutrients because of that.
Diet sodas don’t provide energy, but there is evidence that they increase sugar cravings and therefore lead to some of the same problems as regular sodas.