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Why You Should Kick the Coffee and Soda Habit

Posted 3/30/2017 by UHBlog

Is your health, sleep or weight being affected by your coffee and/or soda habit? We can help you figure out alternatives for better health.

Why You Should Kick the Coffee and Soda Habit

If you're one of those people who needs their daily shot of caffeine, you're not alone. Some estimates indicate that almost two-thirds of adults drink coffee every day, while nearly half of Americans drink at least one soda a day – many of which contain at least some caffeine.

While none of these beverages is inherently bad, researchers have documented the physiological and addictive effects coffee and soda can have on your body.

“Coffee has been on both sides of the nutrition debate,” says registered dietitian Lisa Cimperman, MS, RDN, LD. “Moderate amounts may be good for us, but excessive use – which is more than three to five eight-ounce cups per day – may be associated with negative side effects."

According to Cimperman, some of the side effects associated with excessive caffeine consumption include:

  • Gastrointestinal problems, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, as well as worsening acid reflux symptoms
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure, especially in people who don't regularly consume caffeinated beverages
  • Poor interactions with some medications, such as those used to treat thyroid disease or heartburn
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Frequent urination
  • Interference with calcium absorption and thinning bones, or osteoporosis
  • Fibrocystic disease - or painful, lumpy breasts

Similarly, sugar-sweetened sodas have their share of health hazards.

“Soda comes with a hefty caloric intake,” Cimperman says. “When we drink our calories, it doesn't make us feel full. When we eat the equivalent in calories, we stay full longer and don't become hungry immediately.”

Soda affects a lot more than your appetite, too.

“Your body compensates for the sugar by releasing insulin, which causes a spike in blood sugar,” she says. “When that dips, you feel sluggish and less alert, which causes you to become hungry.”

Diet soda affects you the same way by priming your taste buds to want more sweets, she says. Both soda and diet soda have been linked to obesity and diabetes, which increases the risk of heart disease, the No. 1 killer of men and women in the U.S.

If you want to minimize the effect coffee and/or soda have on your health, it may take effort, Cimperman says. Like someone who is quitting smoking, you'll need willpower and introspection.

“You want to look at your behaviors when you're drinking these beverages and notice what else you're doing,” she says. “Do you always eat a snack with that diet soda or have fast food with a cola? Try decreasing how much soda you drink and pay attention to see if your food behaviors change.”

The goal, she says, should be to cut out sugary sodas completely or limit them to a once-in-awhile treat. With coffee, stay under three cups a day.

After all, coffee and soda are nothing more than thirst quenchers and a way to hydrate your body. For that, plain water is best.

“The thirst mechanism is one of the weakest in your body,” Cimperman says. “By the time you feel thirsty, you're already dehydrated.”

Lisa Cimperman, MS, RDN, LD is a registered dietitian at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. You can request an appointment with a dietitian or any other University Hospitals healthcare professional online.

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