Yesterday, Vasan and his colleagues released
a study that evaluated about 3,500 men and women
participating in the Framingham Offspring Study.
The offspring study began in 1971, following the
original Framingham Heart Study launched in 1948.
The offspring study included 5,124 people in all.
The questions about soda and other dietary habits
were asked at three different exam periods, from
1987 to 1991, 1991 to 1995, and 1995 to 1998. The
average age of those who answered questions about
their soft drink intake and other health habits was
53 during the three exam periods.
At the first exam period, those who drank one or
more soft drinks daily had a 48 percent increased
prevalence of having metabolic syndrome compared
with those who drank less than one a day, the
As the study progressed, drinking one or more sodas
a day was linked with a 44 percent higher risk of
participants developing metabolic syndrome, Vasan’s
team found, compared with drinking less than a soda
The researchers looked at soda consumption and the
person’s risk of developing each of the five criteria
of metabolic syndrome. “Other than elevated blood
pressure, the risk of developing the other four
increased from about 20 percent to 30 percent with
one soda a day,” Vasan says. They also found a trend
toward an increased risk of developing high blood
pressure with soda consumption.
First, most soft drinks are full of the acid sugar
and other acidic sweeteners, and that right there
should be enough for you to stop drinking them.
And if they are not full of the acid sugar and corn
syrup, then they are full of acidic artificial
sweeteners, which you should also avoid.
Second, many soft drinks are caffeinated, another
reason to skip them. Even those without caffeine are
still bad, however, because of the acidity.
Soda is saturated with protons, with a pH of about
3.0 – 10,000 times more acidic than distilled water.
Sport drinks are among the worst – more acidic even
than beer, as most sodas are. Gatorade Lemon/Lime
for instance, has a pH of 2.95. Even soda water
or seltzer with no sugar or artificial sweeteners
or caffeine still contains carbonic acid, and has
a pH of about 2.5 – 50,000 times more acidic than
One of the key components of cola or diet cola is
phosphoric acid, which has a pH of 2.5. that’s strong
enough to dissolve a nail in about four days. To carry
concentrated cola syrup, truckers must use the the
“Hazardous Material” designation reserved for highly
In your body, phosphoric acid leaches calcium from
your bones, making it a major contributor to the
rising increase in osteoporosis.
Americans guzzle an average of 55 gallons of soft
drinks each year – an increase of 131 percent since
the late 1970’s. Forty-six percent of children
aged six to eleven now drink soda every single day.
No wonder we are so fat. We are pouring acid down
our throats at quite a clip.
That’s bad enough as it is, but remember that the
more we drink of sodas, the less we drink of what
is good for us.
The National Soft Drink Association noted that
Americans bought and drank four times as much
soda as water.
Even if that ratio were flipped, we’d still be
in acidic trouble. Since it takes 20 parts of
sodium bicarbonate to buffer or neutralize 1
part carbonic or phosphoric acid (which is in
sodas), you’d have to drink 20 cups of alkaline
water to counter just 1 cup of soda, diet or not,
caffeinated or not.
This new study showed drinking just one soft drink
a day — whether diet or regular — may boost your
risk of getting heart disease.
That is because a soda habit increases the risk of
developing a condition called metabolic syndrome (an
over-acid condition), according to the new research,
and that in turn boosts the chance of getting both
heart disease and diabetes, which are both caused
by an over-acidification of the blood and then tissues.
“Even one soda per day increases your risk of
developing metabolic syndrome by about 50 percent,”
says Ramachandran Vasan, MD, professor of medicine
at Boston University School of Medicine and the
senior author of the study, published in the July 31
issue of the American Heart Association’s journal
To be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, three of
five criteria must be met: a large waistline,
elevated blood pressure, elevated fasting blood
sugar, elevated fasting triglycerides, or reduced
HDL or “good” cholesterol. All of these conditions
are brought on by an acidic lifestyle and diet.
“This study adds to the wealth of scientific evidence
that sugar-sweetened beverages increase the risk of
metabolic syndrome,” says Vasan. Already, he says,
the rise in sugary drink consumption has been
linked to the epidemic of obesity and diabetes
among children and teens and to the development
of high blood pressure in adults.
The spin doctors for the food and beverage industry
takes issue with the finding.
Roger Clemens, DrPH, a spokesperson for the
Institute of Food Technologists, calls the
study findings “oversimplified.”
“There are many attributes associated with the
development of metabolic syndrome,” Clemens says.
“Some of which are part of lifestyle choices, such
as eating too many calories.” Diet soda is a more
appropriate choice than regular soda, he says.
“It’s way too soon to say stop drinking diet soda,”
says Clemens, a professor of molecular toxicology
at the University of Southern California School
of Pharmacy, Los Angeles, who is familiar with the
new research. “Diet soda, in moderation, can be part
of a healthy lifestyle.”
Explaining the Soda-Heart Disease Link
The link between soda consumption and heart disease
risk factors “might be reflecting dietary behavior,”
Vasan says. “We know people who drink sodas have a
greater intake of calories.”
Soda drinkers, he says, are more likely to have a
less healthy lifestyle pattern, such as eating fries,
chips, and other high-fat foods. “They tend to smoke
more and exercise less,” he says.
Keep in mind that all of these habits are highly
acidic and contribute to the symptoms associated
with metabolic syndrome.
Even after adjusting for intake of fat, fiber
consumption, total calories, smoking, and physical
activity, he says, there was still a link between
soft drink intake and metabolic risk factors.
“We cannot rule out the possibility that consumption
of soda is a marker of risk — meaning it tracks
with behavior that promotes the risk of metabolic
syndrome — rather than a true risk factor,”
Other possible explanations: Drinking more sweet
beverages could condition you to have a greater
preference for eating more sweets, Vasan says,
which could increase your weight and your waist
size. Or if you drink a large soft drink with a meal,
you may be hungrier and eat more at the next meal.
The findings don’t surprise Paul Lachance, PhD,
acting director of The Nutraceuticals Institute
at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey,
and a diet and health expert for the Institute
of Food Technologists. “It’s plausible,” he says
of the link between soda intake and increased
risk of metabolic syndrome.
But he wonders about the true root of the association.
It may not be the soda intake itself leading to the
increased risk, he says. “People who drink sodas
may be giving up drinking healthier beverages,”
he says, such as juices, milk, wine, and other
Is there a “safe” amount of soda? “We cannot really
answer that question,” Vasan says. The research shows
an association between soda consumption and metabolic
syndrome risk, Vasan says, but not cause-effect.
More study is needed. Still, he adds, “the group
without risk drank less than one soda a day.”
His co-author, Ravi Dhingra, MD, a physician at
the Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital, in Lebanon,
N.H., and instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical
School in Boston, says: “If you are drinking more
than one soft drink per day, you may be increasing
the metabolic risk factors for heart disease.”
“There is no such thing as a “safe” amount of soda.
Sodas are all highly acidic and destroy the delicate
pH balance of the body and uses up its precious
alkaline reserves. If you want to be sick, tired and
fat then drink soft drinks – or should we say hard
drinks,” states Dr. Robert O. Young.
Bottom line if you drink sodas you put your self
at risk for latent tissue acidosis which is the
cause of ALL sickness and dis-ease, including
heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer.
For more information on what causes “metabolic
The pH Miracle and The pH Miracle for Weight Loss,
by Dr. Robert and Shelley Young
For more information on healthy alkaline living
Copyright © 2007 by Robert O. Young, Ph.D.