Drinking Soda and Developing Osteoporosis — Is There a Link?
Most people are aware that soda is packed with sugar (or artificial sweeteners) and devoid of any nutritional value. Even so, some continue to drink it simply because they enjoy the taste, rationalizing that — as with anything — moderation is key. While this concept is generally true, it unfortunately does not apply to soda, which contains such high amounts of sugar that the concept of moderation does not apply.
The main problem with sugar is that if you consume too much of it, you may develop classic metabolic syndrome, which can lead to a host of health issues. These include decreased HDL (high-density lipoprotein, or “good” cholesterol), increased LDL (low-density lipoprotein, or “bad” cholesterol), elevated blood sugar, elevated triglycerides, high blood pressure, weight gain, and abdominal obesity. A less well known but equally troubling effect is that you could be putting your bones at risk for osteoporosis.
The link between drinking soda and developing osteoporosis is believed to be partly due to the fact that soda often replaces healthy beverages, such as milk, calcium-fortified orange juice, and water.
Research also shows that people who drink dark-colored sodas in high quantities (three or more per day) tend to have lower bone mineral density, which affects the strength of the bones. This could be because many colas contain phosphorous, which some studies suggest can reduce the amount of calcium the bones can absorb.
In addition to limiting your consumption of — or, better yet, completely giving up — soda, here are some ways to promote good bone health and overall wellness:
- Consume sufficient calcium and vitamin D — Adults under age 50 should consume 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily, while those who are age 50 and older should consume 1,200 milligrams. In addition to dairy products and fortified foods, look for leafy green vegetables, broccoli, beans, tofu, tuna, and salmon. If necessary, talk with your doctor about supplements.
- Get enough exercise — Regular workouts, especially those that incorporate weight-bearing exercises, such as walking and jogging, can also help build and maintain strong bones.
- Watch your vitamin A intake — While vitamin A is important for healthy bones, too much can actually have a detrimental effect. Some experts believe that excessive amounts of vitamin A can trigger an increase in the development osteoclasts, which can break down bone and also interfere with vitamin D absorption.
Soda is everywhere. Sometimes, even if you want an alternative, you might be hard pressed to find one. And, if you’ve been drinking a lot of soda up to this point, you may be addicted to its caffeine content. The best way to proceed is to make up your mind that you want to stop drinking soda, and then gradually decrease the number of sodas you drink each day. The best choice is always a cool, refreshing glass of water, but if that seems unappealing to you, try adding a slice of lemon or a frozen strawberry. Or, you might choose skim milk (bonus: skim milk is an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D), soy milk, or green or black tea.
If you have questions related to soda and general nutrition, please contact or visit the South Tampa Immediate Care walk-in clinic. For more tips on how to keep yourself and your family healthy, be sure to check out our online series of health articles.