Lets dive into the ins and outs of SODA! Would you consider yourself a sodaholic? A person that is hopelessly addicted to carbonated, caffeinated beverages. Could the toxic ingredients in soda be detrimental to your health? Read below to get the scoop.

Dangers of SodaIngredients in a Coca Cola

  • High Fructose Corn Syrup or sucrose
  • Carbonated water
  • Caramel color (E150d)
  • Caffeine
  • Phosphoric acid
  • Natural flavorings

Did you know…12oz can of soda = 39gms of added sugar (10 teaspoons of sugar). It is only recommended to have 30-40 gms of added sugar a day. Hunter gatherers likely only consumed 20 gms of sugar per YEAR.

Ingredients in a Diet Coca Cola

  • Carbonated water
  • Caramel color (E150d)
  • Aspartame, Acesulfame K
  • Caffeine
  • Phosphoric acid
  • Citric acid
  • Phenylalanine (from aspartame)

Specifics about the ingredients in sodasSoda & PAH

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

Is HFCS the same as Cane Sugar (glucose + fructose)? No, HFCS contains more fructose and there is no chemical bond between glucose and fructose. Therefore HFCS is digested and absorbed more rapidly. Fructose goes right to the liver and converts to fat. This can lead to a whole list of potential health problems such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

Fructose is sweeter and cheaper to use in products so it only makes sense to produce more fructose products for consumers!

Caramel Coloring

Caramel Coloring gives soda the brown color and is made by heating nutritive sweeteners (glucose, malt syrup, sucrose, molasses) either alone or in the presence of acids, alkalies, and/or salts. Ammonia and sulfites are commonly used in this process.  The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has linked it to multiple forms of cancer and has been petitioning the FDA to ban this product from food. This should be relabeled as chemically modified caramel coloring or ammonia-sulfite process caramel coloring.

Phosphoric Acid

Phosphoric Acid gives the soda a ‘sharper’ flavor and prevents mold and bacteria growth. It has been linked to lower bone mineral density (by excreting calcium from our bones), tooth enamel erosion and increased risk for kidney disease and kidney stones. Research is mixed on risk for osteoporosis (bone fractures, low bone mineral density and calcium excretion).


180x sweeter than cane sugar and derived from Phenylalanine which makes up 50% (amino acid), Aspartic acid – 40% (amino acid), Methanol (wood alcohol) – 10%.  Adverse reactions to aspartame include headache, change in vision, sleep problems, hallucinations, memory loss, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, hives, rashes, change in mood, convulsions, heart rate changes, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, joint pain, fatigue and weakness. While amino acids sounds harmless the breakdown of these products in your body causes excitotoxicity!


Exitotoxins stimulate neurons to death, causing brain damage.  They are especially dangerous for pregnant or breastfeeding women and children because infant brains are 4x more sensitive to exitotoxins. Research has shown that excitotoxins can pass through the placenta and potentially affect the developing brain. There is potential that this exposure can result in autism, learning disorders, hyperactive behavior, and possibly schizophrenia.

Excitotoxins can also increase risk of free radical damage which causes organ and tissue damage which  may lead to arthritis, atherosclerosis, cancer and coronary Artery Disease

Acesulfame K

Acesulfame K is200x sweeter than cane sugar. This has the lowest risk of health concerns when compared to the other artificial sugars. Due to its bad aftertaste, it is only used in combinations with other artificial sugars.

Chemicals in sodaCitric Acid

Citirc acid gives soda a sour taste. It occurs naturally from fruits and vegetables, however it is synthetically manufactured from a fungus and GMO (genetically modified) sugar.  Consuming citric acid may lead to stomach related symptoms such as stomach cramping, vomiting and nausea.

Natural Flavoring

“Natural flavors are derived from the essential oils or extracts of spices, fruits, vegetables and herbs.” – Coca-Cola Co.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service defines “natural” as “a product containing no artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed.”

If they have nothing to hide then why not specify what’s in their natural flavoring!!!

Want to wean yourself from soda?

Try Zevia soda! It is sweetened with calorie free stevia (plant from South America that is 200x sweeter then sugar), erythritol (a sugar alcohol) and monk fruit (Asian fruit that is 200-300x sweeter then sugar). It still has questionable ingredients such as natural flavors, citric acid, and caramel color and more research needs to be done on stevia so this shouldn’t be an everyday choice.

Regardless, any alternative sweeteners can increase your cravings and lead to weight gain so your long-term goal should be adjusting your taste buds to craving the natural sweetness from organic fruits and vegetables.

*Erin McCahill is a Registered Dietician (RD) whose goal is to impact her readers in a positive way by leading them to a healthier lifestyle.  Email Erin at to sign up for her monthly newsletter Rejuvenate-n-Balance.

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