Carbonated Beverages & Your Health

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

I don’t drink soda often. Knowing that most provide 150 calories for just 12 ounces, I decided many years ago that I’d rather eat and chew than drink my calories. It’s just more satisfying.

However, there are rare occasions when I will drink soda, but it’s almost always calorie-free and usually because my options are limited or my stomach is upset.

As an oncology dietitian, patients often ask me if they can drink sodas. If you are going through cancer treatment, is this safe? Is there any way sodas can be beneficial?

Sodas are simply carbonated sugar water and serve no role in fighting cancer; however, they can serve a purpose during cancer treatment for some people.

I would never encourage someone to add soda to their diet; however, if nausea is getting the best of you, sometimes a cola or ginger ale is just what you need.

So just how many of us drink soda?

According to the CDC, 50% of the U.S. population drinks sugar-rich beverages on any given day (including fruit drinks, sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, and sweetened bottled waters). One-quarter of Americans drink more than one 12-oz can of cola per day.

In 2003, over 10 billion cases of soda were sold in the United States, which equals about 18-ounces per day, or roughly 328 (20 ounce) bottles per year, for every man, woman and child in the United States! (SOURCE: Beverage Digest)

Are you a part of this statistic? If so, what does this amount of soda do for your health?

Unfortunately, not much good.

  • First of all, drinking 328 bottles of soda per year provides the body with 83,000 calories or 24 pounds of fat! If you are trying to lose weight, cutting out high sugar beverages is one of the first changes you can make to drop that number on the scale.
  •  Secondly, sugar-rich beverages are empty calorie foods –they give us energy through calories, but provide little to no nutrition. If you are on cancer treatment, you probably don’t have much appetite. If that’s the case, you are eating less, so you want every bite to count – there’s no room for foods that don’t help in the fight.
  •  Finally, if you have cancer of the esophagus, stomach, mouth, throat or have problems with acid reflux, or are getting radiation to the mouth or throat, the carbonation in sodas may cause more pain and irritation.

 So if I want to reduce my soda intake, what else can I drink?

  • Water. If you need more flavor, squeeze a lemon, lime or orange if you aren’t sensitive to citrus.
  • Unsweetened coffee or teas.
  • Replace sugar-rich soda with diet sodas to reduce calories if you are trying to lose weight. Limit to one per day to avoid taking in excess artificial sweeteners. If the carbonation bothers you, sit a glass at room temperature for 15 minutes before drinking.

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