When it comes to alcohol vs. soda is one better than the other? Learn the good, the bad, and what happens to our bodies when this stuff is metabolized.
Table of Contents
Alcohol vs Soda: Ingredients
Soft drinks or soda contain carbonated water, a sweetener, caramel color, phosphoric acid, artificial and natural flavors, caffeine, and a preservative known as sodium benzoate.
The sweetener consists usually of sugar, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), or artificial sweeteners
Alcohol is made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Known as ethyl alcohol or ethanol it is the stuff in beer, wine, and liquor that makes you drunk.
Alcohol is produced when yeast, sugar, and starch are fermented from different sugar sources.
Wine is made from grapes. Wheat and malted barley are used to make beer. Sugar cane or molasses is used to make rum. Grains, potatoes, beets, molasses make vodka.
Alcohol vs Soda: Health Benefits
Are there any health benefits to soda?
Soda Provide Hydration?
Soda is devoid of any nutrients, but it is a liquid. Can it help with hydration? Research in animals says no. Sugary beverages like soda caused cause kidney when given to mice especially when in hotter climates.
The sugar content in soda may counter any potential hydration benefits.
Caffeine In Soda Boosts Alertness
Soda also contains caffeine. The benefits of caffeine include a boost in mood, alertness, and brain function. A meta-review found that in moderation it can help reduce the risk of certain cancers and cardiovascular disease. So it can be a good pick-me-up for when you need a boost of energy.
On the flip side, caffeine may be dangerous for people with stress and anxiety. Caffeine can trigger that “fight or flight” response in the brain that occurs when we undergo stress. So caffeine consumption can worsen stress and anxiety in some individuals.
One study found that 300 mg of caffeine doubled stress levels when compared with those taking a placebo.
It can also cause insomnia. If you drink soda too close to bedtime the caffeine may affect your sleep.
The problem with soda is we have no idea how much caffeine is present. This is because they never list the amount on the container. A 16 oz bottle of cola has about 39 mg of caffeine.
This may not sound like a lot but if you are already undergoing stress even a small amount may be problematic.
Habitual caffeine consumption may also interfere with an enzyme needed for caffeine metabolism. This means that the body could not effectively excrete it from the body. If levels possibly build up there could be adverse health risks.
So if you are already under high stress soda may just pour fuel on the fire.
Does Alcohol Have Any Health Benefits?
Like soda, alcohol does not contain any nutrients, with the exception of red wine which contains the antioxidant resveratrol.
Resveratrol reduces inflammation in the body. However, the amount found in red wine is very low. You would have to drink several bottles a day to gain any benefit.
Studies show consuming one to two glasses of red wine may lower chances of heart disease, risk of stroke, and early death in individuals.
Catechin, epicatechin, and proanthocyanidins are antioxidants that may reduce the risk of colon, basal cell, ovary, and prostate cancers.
These compounds may lower the chances of depression, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes in women.
It should be noted that this is with MODERATE consumption of 1 to 1 ½ glasses a day for WOMEN, and 1 to 2 glasses a day for MEN.
Alcohol vs. Soda: Why To Avoid these Beverages?
Dangers of Sugar
One 12 ounce can of coke contains 39 grams of sugar. This is the equivalent of about 9 teaspoons.
According to the American Heart Association, men should not exceed more than 37.5 grams (9 teaspoons) of added sugar per day. Women should not have more than 25 grams (6 teaspoons) of added sugar per day.
So even if you have only one can of soda you are exceeding the recommended added sugar.
Aside from sugar there are preservatives, artificial coloring and caffeine found in this drink.
The preservative sodium benzoate found in soda may cause inflammation and produce free radicals. One test-tube study showed it could be responsible for an increase in the hunger by suppressing leptin, a hormone that makes you feel full.
The artificial coloring 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI) sometimes used in drinks is a possible cancer-causing agent.
Inflammation and Disease Risk
It decreases the signal to the hypothalamus gland which tells the brain you are full. This will make the body think that you are still hungry and want more sweet stuff.
Consuming 1 to 2 cans per day increases the risk for type 2 diabetes by 26 percent.
Soda is Bad for Bones
Soda contains phosphoric acid. This high level of phosphate can lead to calcium depletion and deteriorate bones. It throws off the mineral balance and can also affect vitamin D and vitamin K levels in the blood.
This over time can increase risk of osteoporosis. Phosphoric acid can also erode enamel on teeth and cause cavities.
Alcohol Vs Soda: What About Diet Soda?
If there is no sugar in diet soda, how does this beverage stack up?
Some research finds nothing wrong with using non-sugar sweeteners. There is other evidence that shows even sugar replacements confuse your body and may affect health.
Alternative sweeteners can partially activate the food reward pathways in the brain. This activation may contribute to increased appetite, sugar cravings, and dependence.
Observational studies say that diet soda may lead to weight gain and type 2 diabetes in women.
There is also a link between diet soda and obesity. It may be due to its ability to alter hormones related to hunger and satiety. Diet soda triggers pleasure centers in the brain that make you want to eat more. It also puts people at risk for heart disease and high cholesterol.
Alternative sweeteners in diet soda may alter gut bacteria. This could promote inflammation and stress.
So overall this drink may not be any better than regular soda.
Alcohol vs Soda: Dangers of Alcohol
Alcohol Dehydrates the Body
Alcohol is Not Created Equal
It is important to be aware of the quality of the wine. Some wines may contain nitrates that can be carcinogenic. It is best to drink non-GMO, organic alcohol if possible.
Alcohol is a Drug That Changes Brain Chemistry
Alcohol is a drug. It changes your body chemistry and can be addictive to some individuals.
Drinking impairs motor functions and sometimes leads to poor decision making.
Alcohol can cause birth defects in unborn babies. It should not be consumed by pregnant women.
Alcohol Provides Calories But No Nutrition
While there are no nutrients in these beverages, there are still calories and this can cause you to put on the pounds. Alcohol intake can result in fat deposits around the abdomen. Leading to a “beer belly.”
Too much belly fat creates inflammation which can be lethal to the surrounding organs.
Aside from empty calories, drinking alcohol increases how much food you eat. Research has shown that consumption in the short-term creates feelings of hunger and makes you want to stuff your face.
Having poor judgment and a case of the munchies may lead to snacking that you might not have intended for.
Alcohol Triggers a Stress Response
Alcohol stimulates the stress response. It stimulates hormone release from the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands. In animals, alcohol increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Chronic alcohol intake also increased adrenaline levels.
Often, alcohol is a common tool for stress relief. This could do more harm than good for some individuals.
Alcohol Depletes the Body of Essential Nutrients
Too much drinking can lead to deficiencies in these nutrients. Nutritional deficiencies may damage cells in the digestive tract and impair the absorption of other water and other nutrients. If they do get absorbed alcohol may also prevent them from being used properly.
Alcohol vs. Soda: How Are They Digested?
After we drink these beverages they are broken down into sugar.
In soda, sugar and/or HFCS must go through the liver to be digested. It is stored as an energy source called glycogen.
If the body does not use the glycogen for energy through activity or exercise, it will turn into fat. Some fat will be transported to the blood and some will stay in the liver.
The body sees alcohol as a toxin and wants to get rid of it as soon as it enters the body. The liver is the main site of alcohol metabolism.
Even moderate drinking can put strain on the liver and cause health concerns.
Alcoholic fatty liver disease can develop because alcohol breaks down to acetate and the sugar turns into fat. Fat deposits build up in the cells of the liver causing it to become fatty.
The digestion of alcohol also produces unhealthy bacteria in the gut. This can lead to a leaky gut, bloating, diarrhea and constipation.
Alcohol vs Soda: Final Thoughts
Knowing how addictive sugar can be and how even a small amount of soda can exceed the daily sugar intake, soda should be ultimately avoided if possible.
The conflicting body of research on diet soda is also alarming and shows no benefit from drinking it. It will ruin your bones, your teeth, and your waistline.
If you are currently drinking diet or regular soda you should try to limit your consumption. Work to wean yourself off diet soda. If you are not currently drinking soda, don’t start.
Limited alcohol consumption has some benefits, but there is a fine line between moderate drinking and excess consumption.
As rule of thumb stick to good quality alcohol and be sure to have a drink of water in between so you keep yourself a little hydrated.
If you currently are not drinking do not start. If you are drinking more than 1 to 2 drinks a day you may want to cut back on your alcohol intake.
For hydration, water is the best source. Don’t like the taste of plain water? Add some lemon, lime, or berries to make it taste great. You can even get a pitcher that will infuse the fruit for you.
More Nutrition Tips