Water vs. Pop: The Showdown

By Nicole Martin

February 14, 2017

Everyone alive these days is probably aware that pop (or soda, if you live outside the Midwest, or Coke, if you live in Atlanta) is bad for you.

But what your might not know is just HOW bad.

Because it’s BAD.

So, today, we decided dust off the old boxing gloves and put pop to the test against water. We thought about sorting out the categories based on the benefits of each. But then we realized (Spoiler Alert) that one of the competitors has zero benefits to speak of.

You know who’s going to win, of course. But sometimes, like some of the early afternoon college football games on Saturdays, it’s fun to watch one side just torch the other.

Let’s get to it:

Bizarro Fat Locales
People can get fat accumulation in a lot of places. In the belly area, the thighs, arms, etc. That’s sort of “normal” fat. It’s not good, but we realize it happens.

There are other places that fat can accumulate, however, that seem… well, sort of creepy.

Skeletal fat is one of these. It’s basically exactly what it sounds like: Fat starts wrapping around your bones like the pink insulation in your attic.

Which is gross.

Another place fat can build up is around the liver. “Fatty liver” might be two of the worst words ever put side by side.

So, which of our competitors causes this?

Answer: Pop! Of Course.

A recent Danish study found that people who drank one non-diet soda per day for six months saw their liver fat bump up 6%, their skeletal fat nearly double, and had a 30% increase in cholesterol.

That’s impressive, pop. That’s a lot of new fat.

Oh, and guess what? Diet pop makes you fat too.

A study conducted by University of Texas Health Science Center showed that people who drank one diet pop every day for ten years had their waistlines balloon 70% more than the group that didn’t drink diet pop. The diet stuff also apparently causes obesity in mice, most likely because the liver responds to artificial sweeteners in almost the same way that it does to normal sugars—that is, it converts them to fat in order to store them for later.

Water, by the way, essentially does the opposite. Instead of leaving stuff behind in the body, it flushes the bad stuff out.

Water wins!

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Cancer is bad.
Which one is linked to cancer?
Answer: Pop
This is going to be a short list full of a lot of bad stuff.
Here are some ingredients in pop that have been shown to cause cancer:

Caramel coloring: Pepsi and Coke aren’t naturally brown. They become brown when caramel coloring agents —namely, 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole—are added in. The problem with these two chemicals is that they are known carcinogens.

BPA: Bisphenol A (BPA) is used in pop cans to keep the acids in the pop from eating away at the metal cans. If that weren’t a problematic enough image, BPA is a pretty good thing to expose yourself to if you’re looking to drastically up your chances for reproductive and breast cancers.

Aspertame: Diet pop contains aspertame. Aspertame causes cancer. Therefore, Diet pop causes cancer.

*Water, of course, doesn’t cause cancer. The caveat there is that it’s a good idea to drink filtered water since there could be carcinogens and other toxins in there from environmental runoff.

Osteoporosis occurs when bones lose their density.

Which one of our competitors causes osteoporosis?

Answer: Pop

(You’re starting to get the theme here, huh?)

Whether you’re drinking diet or regular, all pop contains phosphates. And while phosphates occur naturally even in whole foods, the issue here is one of volume. Too much of it results in early aging, kidney malfunction, and—yes—loss of bone density.

Water does not do any of that. Two-thirds of your body weight is water. Your bones are made of a lot of water and a little bit of other stuff.

Water wins.

Hormonal Storms
Science is starting to come to the conclusion that a lot of our society’s health epidemics are related pretty closely to hormonal imbalance.

So, which one of our competitors here causes hormonal issues?

Answer: Pop.

Although, it’s not quite fair since it’s actually the can causing the problem and not the actual liquid, we’ll still include… our old friend BPA again!

Along with causing cancer, BPA also plays a role in obesity and messing up your hormones.

Water, again, is good. It’s nice to your hormones.

Accelerated Aging
No one wants to look prematurely old…

And yet: Pop again!

The anti-aging industry (creams, lotions, salves, etc.) is a $19 billion industry globally.

But, the average American alone drinks 44 gallons of soda per year.

Which doesn’t make much sense simply because there are at least two ingredients in pop that studies have shown age us prematurely.

The first are the phosphates (see above).

The second is the fact that roughly 77% of the corn used to make the corn syrup in pop is from GMO corn. It’s still too early to get a good handle on what GMOs are doing to us, exactly. But from what research has been done so far, it’s pretty clear that if nothing else it’s speeding up the agin process.

Water doesn’t have genes, so by definition it can’t be genetically modified.

Once again, water wins.

The Final Score
So, here’s the deal. Water wins. It’s good for us, we’re made of a lot of it, we need to drink half our body weight in ounces each day. You can drink less of it if your diet is more plant-based, but if you’re eating a lot of processed foods, you need to drink even more to counteract their dryness.

But, we knew that already.

What’s baffling to me is that even though it’s widely known that pop isn’t good for us, it’s still a multi-multi billion dollar industry in this country alone.

Or, maybe it isn’t so baffling. The yearly average of marketing spend for the big soda conglomerates is $3.5 billion. We talk about kids not being able to figure out the truth behind advertising, but I’m not sure that we’re all that different.

It’s around us constantly. The messaging works.

But knowing something is bad for you and taking a step toward building better habits are two different things.

So, quit the pop. Just stop it. All of it.

It doesn’t have a Surgeon Generals warning label on the bottle, but don’t let that fool you. Pop is the new cigarette. And you owe yourself the chance at a healthy life.

Do that, and you win.

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