It’s a known fact that most of us drink soda (commonly called ‘soft drinks’, in Nigeria), though some drink more than others. Many avid soda drinkers are probably aware of soft drinks’ bad effects on health but this knowledge doesn’t stop them from drinking. Although, the ingredients in carbonated drinks are deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration, these beverages may cause side effects, especially if consumed on a regular basis. Familiarizing yourself with the possible side effects of carbonated drinks can help you make informed nutrition choices.

First, let’s see why we need to give up soft drinks:

  • Little/ no nutritional benefit.

There are no nutritionally beneficial components in soft drinks, they mostly consist of filtered water and refined sugars, yet the average Nigerian drinks at least one bottle per day.

  • Increased risk of diabetes.

Consumption of soft drinks stresses the body’s ability to process sugar, thereby, contributing to the risk of developing diabetes. It is important to note that drinking one or two sugary drinks per day increases your risk for type 2 diabetes by 25%.

  • Risk of unhealthy weight gain and obesity.

Drinking a single 330 ml can of sugary soda drink a day translates to more than 0.45kg of weight gain every month. There is strong scientific evidence that consumption of soft drinks is directly related to weight gain; obesity risk = 1.6 x (additional soft drinks consumed), meaning that risk of obesity increases 1.6 times with each additional soft drink consumed.

  • Tooth decay.

Dental experts advise that people drink less soft drinks, especially between meals, to prevent tooth decay and dental erosion. The sugar in soft drinks eats up and dissolves the tooth enamel and also, the acidity of these soft drinks contributes to the dissolution of the mineral content of the enamel, making the teeth weaker, more sensitive, and more susceptible to decay.

  • Risk of osteoporosis

Frequent consumption of soft drinks may also increase the risk of osteoporosis, especially in people who substitute calcium-rich milk with soft drinks. High soft drink consumption in children represents a significant risk factor for impaired calcification of growing bones.

Other harmful effects of soft drinks consumption include:

  1. Heartburn
  2. Increased blood pressure.
  3. Decline in kidney function.
  4. Liver damage.
  5. Increased risk of cancer.
  6. Damage to digestive system.

After what has been said, if you still wish to consume soft drinks, do so in moderation; but if you have decided to quit soda, congratulations! There are tons of healthy alternatives:

  1. Water
  2. Tea
  3. Fresh fruit juice
  4. Milk
  5. Smoothies
  6. Plain or flavoured yogurt, etc.