Whether you say soda, pop, coke, pepsi, or soft drink, they all mean the same thing. Regardless of how you feel about the correct way of saying this popular fizzy drink, I will use the word soda. Hopefully, no offense is taken. Soda is everywhere in the United States-in grocery stores, gas stations, vending machines, restaurants, movie theaters, in some coffee shops, and maybe even in your refrigerator. People become dependent on the ice cold refreshing sweet drink followed by a jolt of energy. But what are you really doing when you reach for a soda? You are thinning your bones, altering your taste buds, and increasing your intake of refined carbohydrates.

In my opinion, thinning of the bones is the scariest effect of drinking soda. Osteoporosis already effects 1 in 3 women and 1 and 5 men over the age of 50. There are two popular theories as to why soda consumption thins the bones. The first is the high amount of phosphorus in soda. Phosphorus and calcium compete for absorption in the body because they are absorbed using the same receptor. Phosphorus overloads the receptors, preventing calcium from being absorbed. The second theory is much simpler. Americans are replacing calcium rich drinks and food (like milk, yogurt, and broccoli) with soda and other processed foods that lack good nutrients.

The sugary sweet taste of soda can also change your taste buds. The more you drink soda, the more your taste buds become accustomed to the overly sweet taste. The sweet taste from soda then overpowers the more subtle taste you get from food-like spices and herbs. If food tastes bland, the obvious next choice is to add salt or reach for more sugary foods. After all, at least they taste like something.

Lastly, regular soda contains a lot of sugar. More than 2 tablespoons actually. By drinking even 1 soda a day, you are greatly increasing your carbohydrate intake. And they are not even the good complex kind that contain fiber and other nutrients! Even if you are drinking diet soda, you will crave sweeter foods.

The take home message: wean yourself off the sodas, both regular and diet. Start drinking more water to hydrate yourself or milk to fill you up and get calcium and vitamin D. Later, your bones, joints, and taste buds will thank you.

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