Mmm, soda. Fewer things are more refreshing than sipping on a cold, carbonated beverage on a warm day, sweetening your tongue while it cools you from the inside out. That, in addition to the kick you get from the caffeine and sugar, can make grabbing a soda or two a regular habit for thirsty pop aficionados.
Additionally, there are tons of different flavors and brands to choose from. You can opt for classic colas, add some spice by getting a root or birch beer, or go all out with fruity flavors like orange and grape sodas. And if you’re really looking for a caffeine and sugar rush, there are all kinds of bright blue and green drinks to sweeten your life and give you a jolt.
Unfortunately for soda fiends everywhere, the data is in: Drinking a lot of soda isn’t exactly good for you. While you consider whether or not to kick your cola to the curb, here’s what happens to your body when you stop drinking soda.
You’ll get more shut eye if you stop drinking soda
Soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages like energy drinks and fruit juices have an effect on every part of your body, especially the brain. Under normal circumstances, our bodies are well-oiled machines. Our body naturally releases chemicals to remind us we need to eat, sleep, defecate, and procreate. But soda inhibits one of those important reminders — the one we need to sleep.
A key ingredient in soda is caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant, which many of us love because it keeps us awake during those two-hour staff meetings. But that Diet Coke you had during your meeting could be keeping you up at night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, moderate caffeine usage can cause insomnia and sleep disturbances. The National Sleep Foundation noted that it takes several hours for caffeine to work its way out of your system, stating, "It takes about 6 hours for one half of the caffeine to be eliminated." So, if you want the best night’s sleep you can get, stop drinking soda in the late afternoon.
You may better remember where you put your keys if you stop drinking soda
The sleep you’re able to get isn’t the only thing that can be influenced by soda. Apparently drinking sugary-sweet soda can also make you forgetful. Hear us out: Researchers at UCLA found long-term sugar consumption could lead to impaired memory, learning, and behavioral plasticity. The study, which was published in the journal Neuroscience in July 2002, found that animals that were on high-sugar diets had reduced amounts of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which impacted their ability to learn and remember things.
So, if you want a better memory (and who doesn’t?), it might be time to stop drinking soda.
Your heart will thank you if you stop drinking soda
Because of the caffeine and other ingredients in soda, it has an adverse impact on how your heart functions. Caffeine may increase blood flow to the skin and extremities, blood pressure, blood sugar, body temperature, heart rate, stomach acid secretion, and urine production, as noted by the University of Michigan’s University Health Service. The more soda you drink, the greater your risk of having a heart attack — at least that’s what researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health say.
In a 22-year study of more than 40,000 men that was published in Circulation in April 2012, researchers found those who drank a sugar-sweetened drink like soda every day could increase their risk of having a heart attack by 19 percent. Those who had soda more than three times a week had an even higher risk. The researchers wrote that reduced intake of sugar-sweetened beverages saw significant weight loss, lowered blood pressure, and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. That’s a good argument for the decision to stop drinking soda.
If you stop drinking soda, your skin will also thank you
Researchers at University of California, San Francisco found that drinking soda causes premature skin aging. In a five-year study of more than 5,000 adults that was published in The American Journal of Public Health in 2014, researchers found that people who drank more sugar-sweetened beverages had shorter telomeres. Telomeres are the ends of chromosomes. Think of them like the plastic caps at the end of your shoelaces; they exist to protect the chromosome. But as time wears on, the telomeres shorten — just as your lace caps will eventually begin to fray.
However, soda consumption and bad habits increase the odds that your telomeres will shrink. The rate of telomere shortening can be either increased or decreased by specific lifestyle factors. Making good choices regarding your diet and the activities you do can reduce the rate of telomere shortening or at least prevent excessive telomere weakening. So it’s probably a good idea to stop drinking soda.
Everyone will love your smile if you stop drinking soda
It’s pretty much a no-brainer that soda — diet or otherwise — isn’t so great for your teeth. Soda is acidic, and the acids in the soda eat away at enamel, causing tooth decay and cavities.
In a Chinese study on the effects of soda consumption on oral health that was published in the Journal of Zhejiang University Science B: Biomedicine & Biotechnology in 2009, researchers wrote, "It is necessary to educate patients about the harmful effects of excessive soft drink consumption." They went on to say that dentists should advise patients to limit soda intake and to drink less erosive soft drinks like unsweetened iced tea and iced coffee. The researchers also advised that patients should avoid brushing their teeth within one hour of consuming acidic food and using fluoride and remineralizing toothpaste.
If you take your oral health seriously, it might be time to stop drinking soda.
You could have gorgeous, thick hair if you stop drinking soda
You might not be able to achieve the luscious hair seen in hair commercials without the help of professional hairstylists, but, if you stop drinking soda, you could boost your hair health.
According to Panos Vasiloudes, a dermatologist and the medical director of hair loss clinic Harklinikken, high sugar intake from things like soda can indirectly cause hair loss, as reported by Yahoo! Beauty. It might sound like a leap, but it actually makes sense. Sugar affects the hormones in your body, specifically dihydrotestosterone, which causes hair thinning. So it is believed if you control the amount of sugar you take into your body, then you can help control the amount of dihydrotestosterone and, hopefully, the amount of hair on the top of your head. Vasiloudes noted, "Everyone should recognize the power of eating real food and can use diet as a powerful weapon against thin hair."
So if your hair hasn’t been looking its best lately, why not stop drinking soda to give your locks a little help?
If you stop drinking soda, you could lose weight
It’s no surprise that drinking sugary drinks like soda causes weight gain. So, if you hope to lose a few pounds, eliminating soda can do the trick.
Two studies have found that swapping soda for a healthier beverage option can lead to some weight loss. The first study, published in the journal Pediatrics in 2006, showed moderate body weight reduction when a group of teens were given a noncaloric beverage to replace sugar-sweetened beverages. The second study, which was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2012, involved overweight and obese adults. That study found that replacing caloric beverages with water or diet beverages resulted in 2 to 2.5 percent weight loss. That’s a pretty good reason to stop drinking soda!
If you stop drinking soda, you’ll crave less sugar
Given that many sodas contain both caffeine and sugar, you might be tempted to think soda would be good for a kick of energy, right? Wrong, according to registered dietitian Hayley Cimring. "Many people have turned to soda for an energy boost, but the drop in energy after the soda wears off will leave you feeling fatigued," she told The List. "This will only lead to further cravings." And that’s how you can end up drinking soda after soda just to maintain a baseline.
The same applies to diet soda as well, as Cimring said it can have a significant impact on your sense of satiety. "When you take in something exceedingly sweet, and those artificial sweeteners in diet soda are from 400 times to 8,000 times sweeter than sugar, it can send you searching for more food — out of lack of satisfaction," she continued.
So if you stop drinking soda entirely, you can get off that ride and crave less sugar altogether.
Your taste may improve if you stop drinking soda
We get it, we really do. Part of the reason so many people drink soda is because it tastes good, so consuming it is a pleasant experience. But if you’re hip to the dangers of sugar, you might instead reach for a diet soda, which certainly reduces your risk of developing some of those sugar-related conditions. Can’t hurt, right?
However, diet soda comes with its own risks, according to Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. "Long term, drinking an intensely sweet drink with no calories can change taste preferences and unconscious desire for eating," he revealed to Men’s Health. "Will an apple taste sweet anymore? Will a carrot taste sweet anymore?" Unfortunately for the sweetener-trained tongue, no.
But if you stop drinking soda, eventually your taste buds will revert to the way they were before. Imagine how good fruit will taste again!
Initially, you might feel irritable when you stop drinking soda
While giving up soda is good for your body in a myriad of ways, that doesn’t mean that doing so is easy or without effort — it actually can be quite difficult, according to Health. Additionally, some of the impacts of ditching your dew can be fairly unpleasant out of the gate, especially if your preferred beverage has both caffeine and sugar.
One less-than-pleasant change that happens to your body will take place in your brain, as noted by Dr. Mike Dow, a psychotherapist and nutrition expert. "Your brain was … getting both serotonin and dopamine from the sugar and caffeine, respectively," he shared in an interview with Bustle. "So, you’ll be irritable and get headaches and really be craving that soda."
Fortunately, both the moodiness and the cravings don’t last forever, and eventually your body will adjust to your new and healthier lifestyle. So, don’t let any changes in your mood dissuade you from committing to your decision to stop drinking soda!
You may crave carbonation if you stop drinking soda
It’s not just caffeine and sugar that keeps you reaching for soda time after time. It’s also the pleasant experience that comes with the carbonation, which is addictive in and of itself, according to Gary Wenk, Ohio State University’s director of neuroscience undergraduate programs. "If you take Coca-Cola and sit it on the countertop for a day or so, how much would you enjoy drinking it?" he asked in an interview with CNN. Good point!
So in addition to the pick-me-up and flavor boost of colas, you might also find yourself jonesing for the bubbly goodness if you give up soda, says registered dietitian Amanda A. Kostro Miller. "You can have a few different cravings for soda when you cut it out of your diet," she explained to The List. "Many of my clients ultimately crave the carbonation, which can be remedied fairly easily with seltzer water." So, if you want to stop drinking soda, it might be worth your while to substitute the drink with seltzer water.
Your immune system may improve when you stop drinking soda
Are you someone who always manages to catch the cold that’s going around, or are prone to getting the flu without fail? Believe it or not, you might want to cut soda out of your diet if that’s the case. You may just find that your immune system improves when you jettison your pop habit.
So what exactly does soda have to do with your tendency to get sick? Plenty, as noted by registered dietitian Hayley Cimring. "Sodas are especially treacherous for your gut," she revealed to The List. "Research has found that sugar and artificial sweeteners affect your healthy gut bacteria, which can affect how your immune system works and how your body responds to infection." Who knew?
While giving up soda for good is no substitute for good hygiene practices or the proper medicine, it can give you a leg up in the battle against bacteria and viruses nonetheless. So if you often feel under the weather, why not try to stop drinking soda?
If you stop drinking soda, you might miss the flavor
Have you ever heard that you need to drink eight glasses of water every day in order to stay properly hydrated? While Healthline says that isn’t exactly the case, that doesn’t mean cola should be your go-to beverage, as noted by the Cleveland Clinic. So if you’re going to drink in order to maintain a good body balance, water is your best bet. May as well stop drinking soda, then.
But if you’re used to drinking soda, you may find water to be a pretty boring option — but there are ways to spice things up, says registered dietitian Amanda A. Kostro Miller. "Some people may also prefer soda to regular water because they just ‘don’t like the taste of water,’" she told The List. "This can be remedied easily by adding natural flavors to your water (i.e. lemon juice, cucumber)." Problem solved!
You could boost your brain health when you stop drinking soda
A surprising thing about soda is the impact that it can have on your brain health. Unfortunately, some of the news on this front isn’t very good, as noted by registered dietitian Hayley Cimring. "Researchers have found that consuming excess sugar in soda leads to a decrease in the amounts of a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)," she explained to The List. "This may affect your ability to learn and remember things."
That’s not the full extent of it either, as Cimring says there are additional problems your pop habit can wreak on your noggin. "Other studies have found a link between consumption of soft drinks and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia," she continued. Yikes!
So if you’re concerned about potential memory loss, or you have a history of Alzheimer’s disease in your family, you may want to stop drinking soda on a regular basis. It just might help your precious brain!
Your bladder will thank you if you stop drinking soda
There are some topics that don’t exactly make for good dinner table conversation, and your restroom habits are one of them. But as it turns out, if you stop drinking soda, then you may just make fewer stops in the bathroom, says registered dietitian Sofia Norton. She revealed to The List, "The reason behind that frequent feeling of wanting to urinate is caffeine, which is in soda and other beverages like coffee and tea."
It’s not just eliminating all the caffeine that’s good for your bladder, as ditching both sodas and diet sodas can have another huge benefit, according to Norton. "Quitting soda, including diet soda, also reduces your risk for bladder cancer," she continued. "Several studies have shown that artificial sweeteners, when consumed too often, is associated with an increased cancer risk."
Bear in mind that consuming artificial sweeteners in reasonable quantities is perfectly safe, as noted by the Mayo Clinic. The key is moderation.
Want to live longer? Consider making the decision to stop drinking soda
Do you have dreams of one day retiring with your spouse and finally taking that trip around the world? Are you really looking forward to your golden years when having to work will be a distant memory? Spoiler alert: If you say goodbye to your soda habit, you might be more likely to do that, says registered dietitian Hayley Cimring. "Here’s a bonus: you might live longer," she shared with The List in 2020. "A recent study found that people who drank a lot of soda had shorter telomeres (protective DNA units) in immune cells." That means that soda drinkers are more at risk for death and disease as they age.
So, if you want to do absolutely everything you can to live a long life, it’s clear what you should do when it comes to soda, according to Cimring. "The bottom line is when you stop drinking soda you can lengthen your life span and improve your overall health," she continued. That’s all the more reason to learn to love LaCroix. Or good old-fashioned water.
You’ll probably feel a lot better if you stop drinking soda
If all the reasons we listed to stop drinking soda aren’t good enough, how about just having the knowledge that your insides could be as beautiful as your outsides? Frequent consumption of soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages is linked to a slew of conditions that make you feel pretty awful, according to Harvard’s School of Public Health. That includes life-threatening kidney disease, diabetes, and obesity — which is a gateway disease for conditions like breast, colon, endometrial, and pancreatic cancer, as well as heart disease, as noted by the journal Obesity Facts.
Help is on the way if you’re finding it hard to stop drinking soda
It’s easy to say you shouldn’t drink soda. But the reality is that it’s tough. Soda tastes wonderful and feels like a fiesta in your mouth. Public health officials, policymakers, and doctors know just how tough saying no to soda can be, so they’re coming up with a bunch of ways to reduce soda consumption, including higher taxes on soda and aggressive advertising. And that just might work — the advertising that is.
According to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Health Communications, certain PSAs aimed at sugar-sweetened drinks did influence teens’ intentions to cut back on soda. If you can get a teen to cut back on Mountain Dew and stop drinking soda, anything is possible.