Chances are, if you’re like a typical American, you’re not drinking enough water. While most of us know we’re supposed to drink 64 ounces of water a day, a recent independent research group found only about 34% of Americans actually do. And what’s worse, almost 10% reported not drinking water at all.1
So, if we’re not drinking water, what are we drinking? Some of the mainstays in American living are sugary sodas, diet soda, coffee, juice, and milk (more on why that may not be a good thing later). Learn more about juice here. But even if what you’re drinking seems healthy, chances are, it’s not.
A typical American consumes 50 gallons of soda and other sweetened beverages (juice, sweetened tea, etc.) each year.2 And it’s not just empty calories and sugar you’re consuming (although a typical soft drink contains as much as 40 grams of sugar—about 10 sugar packets). Even if you’re drinking diet soda or regular coffee, you’re consuming large amounts of phosphates. A study by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology found that the high levels of phosphates, like those found in soda, accelerate signs of aging, and “may also increase the prevalence and severity of age-related complications, such as chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular calcification, and can also induce severe muscle and skin atrophy.”3 If that doesn’t sound scary enough, phosphorus and carbonic acid (what the carbonation in your drink turns into once it reaches the stomach) are linked to higher incidences of osteoporosis, because too much of these two soda ingredients can reduce bone calcium and result in low bone density.4 Not to mention that both soda and diet soda have been linked to higher rates of adult and childhood obesity.5
Think milk is better? Think again. While the United States government continually pushes for high milk consumption, one has to wonder why humans are the only mammals that drink milk past infancy…and drink another animal’s milk at that. While many believe milk is a great source of calcium and that it promotes strong bones, it’s amazing to see that many studies show the opposite. This is because animal proteins found in milk contain an essential amino acid called methionine. Consume too much methionine, and your blood becomes acidic. To balance this acidity, the body leaches calcium from the bones to neutralize the acidic environment. It’s no wonder that osteoporosis and other bone-related diseases are more prevalent in American women, even though they are the biggest consumers of milk products.6
Finally, if you’re drinking most of your fluids during meals, you could be drinking all the nutrients from those foods down the toilet. Your stomach is supposed to be an acidic place, full of enzymes to digest your food. But when you drink while eating your meals, you’re diluting this environment and making your digestive system’s job that much harder.
2 “Shifts in Patterns and Consumption of Beverages between 1965 and 2002.” Obesity. 2007; 15: 2739-2747.