Ever stopped to think how much harm your favourite beverage might be doing to your health? There's some food for thought… Mangai Subbiah

You probably don't want to hear facts and figures. Can't someone just tell me that soft drinks are bad because they cause too much gas or have some terrible acid that will eat my insides?

Well if they did say that, would it wean you off your favourite beverage? Maybe, but unless you experience its effects, you're not going to change.

Popular sips

Some of the most heavily promoted and ‘coolest' products around are soft drinks. Millions are spent on celebrity endorsements. We know the soft drinks are not healthy but how damaging is that to our health?

Soft drinks are those drinks which contain no alcohol and are usually a sugary drink. It includes all carbonated beverages — soda, pop, coke, and carbonated plain water. They are sweetened with sugar or with non-calorie sweeteners in the case of diet sodas.

Why are soft drinks a major hurdle on your path to health? It's because they have only sugar calories, which are called ‘empty calories'. They fill up your stomach and prevent the consumption of other healthy food and water.

You may not think twice about what you slurp through your straw or pour into your glass each day. It is easy to overlook the liquid portion of your meals and snacks. But what you sip might slip you up in health if you are drinking lots of empty calorie sugar laden drinks.

Facts about soft drinks

A direct relationship exists between soft drink consumption and obesity. Don't fool yourself by saying that you are drinking only diet soda, because it's no better either. You tend to gain weight because the largest proportion of the empty calories comes from most of the soft drinks.

Diet sodas are high in sodium content. Too much salt in the diet may cause more calcium to be excreted in the urine.

Soft drinks contain large quantities of phosphoric acid. This pulls out the calcium from your bones and you are setting a stage for the onset of Osteoporosis — a condition where your bones will become porous, therefore more fragile and prone to breakage.

The sugar and the acid in the drinks can easily dissolve the tooth enamel. Acidity in cola beverages is about the same as vinegar. The sugar content masks the acidity. You don't realize that you are drinking this strange mixture of phosphoric acid , sugar, caffeine, colouring and flavouring matter.

Soft drinks are the greatest source of caffeine which is a stimulant.

They may cause acid reflex. When you drink, it makes you burp and this may cause lesions in the esopheous (food pipe), subsequently leading to other diseases.

It is reported that some of the soft drinks sold in India have 24 times the acceptable level of pesticide.

Mass media, luring advertisements and peer group pressure are the major factors influencing the consumption of soft drinks which puts us at danger “nutritionally”.

Cut soft drinks from your diet and march forward towards a healthy life.

The author is Director, Academy of Fitness Management, FitnessOne Group India Limited.

Keywords: soft drinks

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