The Horrible Things That Happen In Your Body Within Minutes of Drinking a Soda

By: Cat Ebeling 
Co-author of the best-sellers:  The Fat Burning KitchenThe Top 101 Foods that Fight Aging & The Diabetes Fix

Did you know that Coca-Cola products are consumed at the rate of more than 1.9 billion drinks per day? The iconic American brand is recognized instantly around the globe and sold in more than 200 countries. And that doesn’t count other soft drinks, like gigantic Pepsico products and other smaller ones.

While the word is starting to spread about soft drinks and their health issues, soft drinks like Coke, Pepsi, and other sodas have retained millions of people who are quite literally addicted to them.

A recent Gallup poll reveals that about 50% of surveyed Americans still drink soda on a daily basis. What’s more, among those who drank soda, the average daily intake was 2.6 glasses per day. Around the world, Mexicans drink more soft drinks than any other country in the world at roughly 163 liters or 36 gallons per person, per year. Type 2 diabetes directly kills over 70,000 Mexicans a year, and the number is probably much higher, since many people are not diagnosed, or may die of heart disease, strokes or cancer—all diseases that can stem from diabetes and soft drink consumption. In the U.S. soft drink consumption is directly tied to the steep increase in newly diagnosed diabetes patients as well. (Note:  Our blog here shows how the Paleo Diet can prevent or even reverse type 2 Diabetes)

Unlike Mexico and other foreign countries, in the United States, soft drinks are mostly sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, an especially vile type of sweetener, even more dangerous than regular sucrose, which is commonly the sweetener used for sodas in other countries. Any large amount of sugar is extremely hazardous to the body, but high fructose corn syrup is even worse than regular sucrose. It is especially taxing on the liver and blood sugar levels. Regardless of the type of sugar soft drinks are sweetened with, these things happen within minutes of drinking a sugary soft drink:

  • blankIn the first few minutes, 10-12 teaspoons of sugar hit your system very quickly since it is in liquid form. The only reason you don’t vomit right away from that massive dose of sugar, is because of the phosphoric acid, carbonation, and other flavors that mute its super sugary taste.
  • In about 15-20 minutes, your blood sugar spikes to astounding levels, causing an insulin reaction. This means that your liver quickly responds by trying to save you from all that sugar in your bloodstream by turning it into fat cells, especially when that sugar is in the form of high fructose corn syrup. Obviously, your body then tries to store all that fat, and it circulates in the blood stream. (Ever been told you have high triglycerides? This is fat being carried around in the bloodstream, and is often the result of a diet too high in sugar, and refined carbohydrates.) All that fat gets stored on the body, or in the liver, becoming one of the primary causes of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. And of course, it is also a primary causative factor in obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and even many cancers.
  • In a half hour or so, your body starts absorbing all the caffeine in the soda. Your pupils dilate, your heart rate increases, you feel temporarily energized as your blood pressure rises, and your liver, in response to the caffeine, dumps even more sugar into the bloodstream. Result, insulin goes back up, you get hungry and that sugar gets stored as more fat.
  • In 45 minutes, dopamine (one of your ‘feel-good’ hormones) is released, stimulating the pleasure center of the brain, very much in the same way as heroin—and equally as addictive too, by the way.
  • In 60+ minutes after downing that soda, the phosphoric acid in the soda binds onto usable calcium, magnesium and zinc in your digestive system. By now, the diuretic effect of the caffeine and liquid goes into effect, making you have to urinate. This means your body cannot put those highly valued minerals to use, as they attach to the phosphoric acid and get dumped from the body in the form of urine. And guess what, if you drank that Coke to quench your thirst, you will end up peeing more than that away, making you even thirstier and more dehydrated than you were in the first place.
  • An hour after that soda, the caffeine and sugar wear off, and you start crashing. The massive sugar and insulin spike leave you hungrier, tired, irritable, and sluggish. Not only that, you will probably be thirsty again, and given the addicting properties of soda, you may be craving another.

So what happens if you think “moderation is the key” and just have one soda a day? Even just one soda a day has massive consequences to your health.

Diabetes and Obesity

The Nurse’s Health Study which monitored 90,000 women for 8 years, found that drinking a soda a day added about 10 pounds of fat in 4 years. This number actually seems pretty low, and my observation is that it can add much more than that. I’d be more likely to say it’s about 5 pounds a year. One soda a day also doubles your chances of type 2 diabetes, and when the statistics show your odds of getting diabetes, to be one out of three, do you really want to make it almost certain that you will end with type 2 diabetes?  If you or a loved one has diabetes or pre-diabetes, you can reverse it through a diet like this.

Brain Power

A 2002 UCLA study found that consuming excess sugar actually makes you ‘dumber’. A brain chemical called “brain derived neurotrophic factor” or BDNF, makes it tougher for you to remember things and even harder to learn new things. Another study from University of Copenhagen, links low BDNF levels to depression and dementia.

Interestingly enough, there was yet another study from the University of Copenhagen which found that low BDNF levels are linked to depression and dementia. And BDNF levels are also connected to insulin resistance, which puts into process not only diabetes, but also makes you at higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

And one other big problem from consuming sweet drinks: According to a 2010 study from the University of Minnesota, chronic sugar consumption dulls the brain’s mechanism for knowing when to stop eating, making you definitely more susceptible to weight gain and obesity.

Heart Disease

It’s not the bacon that causes heart attacks, it’s definitely the soda. There exists a strong correlation between soda and heart disease. One of the more recent studies from Harvard (2012), found one can of soda a day increase heart disease by 20%, according to a New York Times. article. While this risk can be associated with the increased risk of high blood sugar, and diabetes (which in itself causes increased risk of heart disease), regardless, heart disease and stroke risk do go up significantly. A study from the University of Miami found that those who had a daily diet soda habit had a 61% increased risk of “cardiovascular event,” including heart attack and stroke, than those who drank no soda — even when factors such as smoking, physical activity, alcohol consumption and diet were controlled.


People who drink soda, or other sugary beverages have a higher risk of developing cancer in the gallbladder and bile ducts around the liver, a Swedish study suggests. The evidence suggests that obesity, and elevated blood sugar levels also increase the risk of malignancies. Given that many cancers feed on sugar, this is truly not surprising.

Another very deadly form, and fast-moving type of cancer, pancreatic cancer ,is also tied with drinking a soda or two a day. In fact, the risk of pancreatic cancer increases by about 87%, according to researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, D.C. The study is published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Soda drinking is also one of the biggest causes of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, which can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.

Respiratory Disease

Yes, soda is also highly connected to COPD and increase risk of asthma attacks, according to this–recent study by the University of Adelaide that found that drinking too much soda can increase the risk for developing asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, or COPD.

Bones and Teeth

While its common knowledge that sugar leads to tooth decay, the acid in soda is far worse. In fact, it’s a bit like drinking battery acid as far as the damage goes to the tooth enamel. A 2006 study published in the Academy of General Dentistry journal found that drinking soda is nearly as harmful for your teeth as drinking battery acid and the damage is comparable to what happens to a meth user’s teeth.

The citric acid and phosphoric acid added to offset the sweet taste of the large amounts of sugar, actually corrode tooth enamel right alongside the sugar. According to the Colgate Oral and Dental Health Resource Center, soft drinks are among the most significant dietary sources of tooth decay. “Acids and acidic sugar byproducts in soft drinks soften tooth enamel, contributing to the formation of cavities. In extreme cases, softer enamel combined with improper brushing, grinding of the teeth or other conditions can lead to tooth loss.”

The phosphoric acid binds to calcium, magnesium and zinc—all vital bone and teeth minerals, and actually pulls them out of the body, rendering them useless for bone and tooth material. So not only does the acid erode the outer surfaces of tooth enamel, it also eats away at the inherent structure of teeth and bone, causing massive tooth decay, and osteoporosis as well.

Convinced yet? While drinking soft drinks and sweet fruit drinks is highly addictive, the best bet is to quit cold turkey. Don’t think that you can resort to artificially sweetened beverages, as these have even worse consequences than sugar-sweetened beverages.  This article shows how diet soda actually causes weight gain too.

blankTry to find some appealing and delicious alternatives.

I love the fizzy, tangy taste of kombucha, and this serves for me as a great substitute for drinking a sugar-laden soda. Besides the great refreshing, thirst quenching taste of kombucha, they have incredible health BENEFITS including cancer fighting, low sugar, tons of great probiotics, anti-oxidants and more. There are a zillion tasty flavors and brands of kombucha out there these days, some of which even taste like soda now, but without any harmful sugar or chemicals — Live Soda is my favorite brand of Kombucha that tastes amazing, has 7 billion probiotics per serving, but only has 5 grams of sugar per serving instead of the typical 40 grams of sugar in a soda.

If you cannot develop a taste for kombucha or just don’t like the price of kombucha, try some herbal tea, either hot or on ice, with a touch of stevia. My favorite is Celestial Seasonings Red Rooibos and Vanilla flavor with a drizzle of maple syrup. Its delicious either hot or cold and has a sweet mellow flavor. Or try cutting up some fruit in a pitcher of spring water. The fruit adds a little bit of flavor without the sugar or calories. Cucumber and sliced limes are also quite tasty in water, and if you love the bubbles, drink sparkling spring water—one of my favorites. Sparkling mineral water also adds some great electrolytes and minerals as well.

Bottom line—GIVE UP SODA. There is no moderation with this drink—it’s extremely harmful to your body—head to toe!

Since soda isn’t really suitable for human consumption because of the health risks, here’s a clever article that shows 7 uses for soda aside from drinking it.

References JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, online June 8, 2016.

About The Watchdog

Mike Geary has been a Certified Nutrition Specialist and Certified Personal Trainer for over 15 years now. He has been studying nutrition and exercise for almost 25 years, ever since being a young teenager. Mike is originally from Pennsylvania, but has fallen in love with mountain life and now resides in the picturesque mountains of Utah. Mike is an avid adventurist and when he’s not spending his time skiing, mountain biking, hiking, or paddleboarding on the lake, he has enjoyed skydiving, whitewater rafting, piloting an Italian fighter plane (seriously), scuba diving, heli-skiing, and traveling all around the world, enjoying learning about different cultures. At the age of 40, Mike now feels healthier, stronger, and more energetic than when he was 20... All because of a healthy lifestyle and great nutrition!

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  1. Thank you for that concise report which I knew mostly but am trying to convince my son.
    Also is there a way to subscribe, or do I just need to keep checking back. I will never be on any type of social media. Thx

  2. Soda or coke? Big difference

    • Denise Southard

      What do you mean – is one okay to drink and the other not? Does one have vitamins and minerals?

      • All soda pop is so acidic it is lethal to humans, naturally addictive, extremely lucrative to those who profit from it. 7 of my friends died from soda pop, the complications of the over-acidification of the bodies tissues. It is a slow and painful death. All cancer victims have over acidic bodies. God gave us pH to learn to balance it…in the lakes and oceans too. All life has pH. We are water beings and made to be alkaline, like fish, to survive. aquafina and dasani are stripped, angy acidic waters…deadly. Many do not want this info out. Most Naturopaths and Nutritionists not part of the medical cartel, know this stuff…they taught me. Seek the truth, it will make you free.

  3. All soda is so toxic to the body, especially diet soda.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your valuable research. God bless you, Charles Gamble

  5. ALL diet sodas contain aspertame which was created as an ANT POISON!

  6. Dr. Dennis L. Taylor

    Great information. However, I am surprised that this article does not include the number one reason for not drinking soda, the pH Factor, which indicates soda is at the very bottom of the list (2.0 to 2.5). Coffee and tea are not much farther up the scale. Therefore, this fact outweighs all supposed/claimed health benefits of drinking any of the three. If a person gets enough micronutrients from diet (difficult to do) and quality supplements, one does not need caffeine to kick start the day.

  7. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 1985 at which time I gave up soda and started drinking water, fruit juice and eating salads with raw veggies. It took 2 years, but I got over Fibromyalgia.

  8. Any thoughts about sparkling water? Is there anything detrimental about the carbonation? it is very thirst quenching and makes me feel I am drinking something special.

    • It’s important to consider that many, if not most,
      sparkling waters have high levels of heavy metals
      in them. Do some research to find which ones are
      low in heavy metals.

  9. yup, great article, will share.
    By the way, if it pulls magnesium out of the body that could help explain the huge incidences of magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is an electrolyte crucial for the proper working of electrical signals of your heart, plus crucial for so much more in your body, so would also be bound to be another factor in heart disease. i know of people who are able to come off their heart meds when they supplement with magnesium. A simple way to test if you are deficient is to spray liquid magnesium on your back, and if it stings you are deficient. We use holland 7 barrett one that is scented with bergamot oil.

  10. I used to drink a lot of soda. I went and had a physical, and the doctor told me I was pre-diabetic. I now have no soda, and my doctor tells me I have the blood of a teenager! By the way, I’m 54, and take zero prescriptions.

  11. Website offers ‘exclusive free e-books’. I clicked one one and was informed that since it was ‘sensed’ I was not in the US that I could not access the book but was offered a special price. My iPad is registered in the US. I am only out of the country for a few days. – actually about 15 miles inside the Canadian border. Why is this valuable information not available? If the ‘powers that be’ can determine I am out of the country, certainly they have the capability to determine that the iPad is registered and bought in the US. Strange.

  12. I quit soda and now drink sparkling ice sparkling water. Anything you would like to share about those would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

  13. Patricia Tursi, Ph.D.

    Kombucha is easily made from fermented tea and sugar but most of the sugar is consumed by the fermentation. It gives me a lift and in three days, you can make several bottles of it.

  14. This is a great article but what about stevia?..We regularly drink zevia cola with no carbs no calories and no standard sugars..Its helped me in my weightloss goals as well..Just about every article we have read has stated it as one of the best and safest alternatives to regular and diet soda..My question is this-Does it disrupt insulin and if so is this bad or good?Ive read mixed articles.One says it does and others say it dont.Any added info would be appreciated.

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