Ounce for ounce, there are few things in your home as bad for your body as soda.
And new research is starting to show it's even worse than we thought.
Soda has already been linked to a host of health problems, from obesity and diabetes to tooth decay and osteoporosis. And now, it's also being blamed for a horrible condition involving muscle weakness, cramps, palpitations and vomiting.
This condition is called hypokalemia, and it's caused by a potassium deficiency.
Excess soda appears to cause blood potassium levels to fall to dangerously low levels, according to a study published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice.
Researchers looked at people who drank large amounts of soda – between two and nine liters per day – and discovered this connection. In at least two cases, soda-drinking patients who experienced hypokalemia were hospitalized when their potassium levels fell dangerously.
Potassium is one of our most overlooked nutrients. I've found that most people not only misunderstand its importance, but they don't know how to get it in the proper amount.
That's because the amount of potassium you need is also related to your sodium intake. Our potassium-to-sodium ratio should be 7-to-1, but for most of us that ratio is reversed as we eat salt-laden processed foods at the expense of this vital nutrient.
Soda can also throw potassium levels out of whack. And when those servings are big enough, you've got a recipe for hypokalemia.
But don't think you're in the clear just because you drink less soda. To me, even a teaspoon of this junk is way too much. So I'm absolutely horrified when I walk into a convenience store and see giant two-liter cups of sugary poison, meant for gulping down with an extra-wide straw.
Remember, one of the key ingredients in most sodas is phosphoric acid, which has been linked to bone and kidney problems. Not only that, but industrial grade phosphoric acid is used to remove rust – that alone should tell you everything you need to know about it.
I've tried, and I can't think of a single good reason why anyone should ever drink soda – even diet soda. They're not just empty calories, but empty calories that add up quicker than most people realize.
If you're one of the millions of Americans who drink soda regularly, it's time to make some changes – and it's not as difficult as you might think. Even the most hardcore soda junkies are surprised at how quickly they lose the taste for it once they stop drinking it.
For my money, nothing beats clear, cold water – but I find that when I just have to have that fizz, carbonated water beats cola any day of the week.