The crisp carbonation and utterly sweet flavor of soda is addicting for many people. People know that soda isn’t good, and the news about it hasn’t been good for a while, but they keep drinking it. Regular consumption of sugary beverages like soda can increase the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. People can’t seem to stop drinking it, though, despite it ranking as one of the worst drinks for human health.
Within recent years, Americans have started to consume less soda. Research classifies a heavy consumer of soda as someone who drinks more than 500 calories of soda per day. The amount of heavy consumers reduced by 4% between 2003-2016. A 2020 report found that the percentage among children fell by twice that much. That said, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that nearly 50% of Americans still drink at least one sugary-sweetened beverage per day. Generally speaking, one sugary beverage amounts to 145 calories each day.
To cut down on calories, many people turn to diet drinks and diet sodas. In fact, about 59% of American adults confess to drinking diet soft drinks regularly. The thought is that “diet” means healthier, when diet soda consumption increases the risk of weight gain and higher blood sugar levels. The health aspects aside, the question remains: do these drinks, diet or not, help hydrate the body? It’s natural to wonder, considering that they are fluids. Continue reading to see what the experts say.
Health Benefits Of Soda
First of all, soda offers zero health benefits. We just wanted to clarify that before moving forward. Whether regular or diet, caffeinated or not, all soda varieties negatively affect your health. The sugar has its own effects on health, but the high phosphate levels can decrease bone health, according to a 2016 study. Both the sugar and acid in soda are bad for your oral health, contributing to cavities and the erosion of tooth enamel. Those are just the negatives before entering the realm of hydration.
Water vs. Soda
From a nutritional standpoint, water is the superior beverage to any soda on the market. According to USDA data, an average cola is about 89% water, which means that about 11 of 12 ounces in a can of soda can count toward your fluid intake. Some of you may interpret that news as, “Yay, soda helps me hydrate,” but that’s not exactly the case. The other 11% of ingredients in that soda should make you pause before the can ever reaches your lips. An average 12-ounce can of soda contains nearly nine teaspoons of sugar. Additionally, diet soda doesn’t exhibit the same health benefits as water. Despite the calorie-free nature of diet soda, research shows that diet soda drinkers are more likely to eat unhealthier foods throughout the day. One study found that post-menopausal women who drank more than two diet sodas per week increased their risk of stroke by 23%, and heart disease by 29%.
Water quickly hydrates the body and doesn’t contain the preservatives, colors, added sugars, and other ingredients in soda. One recent study found that drinking 20.3 ounces of water can alleviate mild dehydration within 45 minutes. Water is the ideal beverage to consume if you need to hydrate or rehydrate, for example, after a workout. You have to replenish the water you lose via sweat, which you can do easily by drinking water.
Some soda varieties contain caffeine, which may have a diuretic effect on certain people. The more you urinate, the more you deplete your fluid levels. Although most sodas are typically low in caffeine, be mindful that it can have a diuretic effect on the body. That means that you have to do your best to rehydrate the body with water, herbal teas, and electrolytes.
Soda vs. Seltzer: Which One Hydrates Better?
If you are going to drink a carbonated beverage, dietitians encourage you to drink seltzer water that is free of “natural flavors,” sugars, and artificial sweeteners. Plain carbonated water is more hydrating than soda and doesn’t contain caffeine, added sugars, or colors. If you have find that you have a soda problem, as in you drink too much, consider switching to seltzer to get your carbonation fix. It’s just as fizzy and doesn’t impair your health in the same way soda does. You can also flavor your seltzer water by adding a squeeze of fresh citrus or homemade fruit juice.