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Video: Kick that soda habit!

TODAY
updated 1/5/2006 11:15:05 AM ET 2006-01-05T16:15:05

In 2004, Americans spent approximately $66 billion on carbonated drinks alone. If you're one of the millions who can't start their day without a sip of soda but want to stop, help is here. Nutritionist Joy Bauer was invited on the “Today” show to offer some helpful advice to help reduce the carbonated drink habit.

Do you find yourself reaching for soda at every meal? 
Imagine this: One 20-ounce bottle of soda is the equivalent of pouring 17 teaspoons of straight sugar into your body! What’s more, those 250 empty calories can set you up for mood swings, energy dips and weight gain.

What else can excessive soda and sugar do to your body?
Tooth decay  
The sugar and acid combination causes the degradation of tooth enamel and increases the risk for decay. Soda contents include high fructose corn syrup (that is, sugar), additive dyes, carbonic or phosphoric acid, and sometimes caffeine. The carbonic or phosphoric acid dissolves the calcium out of the enamel, leaving a softened matrix that allows bacteria to enter the teeth and cause destruction. The sugar is an added insult — it’s converted to acid by the bacteria on the teeth, making the combination of acid and sugar especially destructive.

Diet soda also contains acid. So if you’re sipping a sugar-free soda while eating a carbohydrate-rich snack or meal, your teeth are at equal risk.

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Bone weakening
Some health experts believe that soda leaches calcium from the bones in an attempt to buffer the body’s acidity level from the phosphoric acid intake. But there’s no solid evidence to prove this theory. In fact, many everyday foods contain more phosphorous than soda.

However, studies have shown that adolescent girls who regularly drink soda DO have lower bone densities (and higher incidence of fractures) than non-soda drinkers. These findings are most likely because excessive soft drink intake displaces milk and other calcium-rich beverage contributing to an overall calcium deficiency.

Carbonation
Excessive carbonation can cause gas and stomach irritation in people who have Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Increased risk of diabetes
We know that the excessive sugar and calories in soda can cause weight gain – which in turn will increase your risk for type 2 diabetes. But according to a recent Harvard observational study there may be even more to the story.

Women in the study who drank at least one sugar-sweetened soda a day were 85 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who drank less, said Matthias B. Schulze, who presented the Harvard School of Public Health research at the American Diabetes Association's 64th scientific sessions. In addition to the sodas' excess calories, their large amount of rapidly absorbable sugars could contribute to obesity and a greater risk of diabetes, said Schulze, a post doctorate student from Germany. "It's not that sugar everywhere is important, but it seems that sugar specifically in liquid foods may be relevant," Schulze said. "So, sodas and other energy-providing drinks may lead to an over-consumption of energy that would lead to obesity and weight gain."

Another study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism in 2004 looked at the metabolic effect of high fructose corn syrup. Their results revealed that after consuming meals rich in high fructose corn syrup, subjects showed decreased levels of leptin – one of our key appetite regulating hormones. Thus, suggesting that beverages concentrated in high fructose corn syrup do not fill you up and place you at a higher risk for weight gain.

Some things to think about
For the same 250 calories in a 20-ounce bottle of soda, you could enjoy eating nutritious foods that fill you up and can increase your energy. Here are some substitutes:

  • 80 baby carrots
  • Four large Red Delicious apples
  • 15 cups of air popped popcorn

New Year's resolution for 2006
Give up one daily 20-ounce soda, and at the end of the year you’ll save:

  • 91,000 calories
  • 7,280 teaspoons of sugar
  • Potentially lose up to 26 pounds of fat

Give up three daily 20-ounce bottles of soda, and at the end of the year you’ll save:

  • 273,000 calories
  • 21,840 teaspoons of sugar
  • Potentially lose up to 78 pounds of fat

By replacing soda with a nutritious beverage, you'll feel more energetic, satiated, lighter on your feet, less bloated and less moody. The perfect health gift for 2006!

Better beverage alternatives that are low-calorie and enhance your health:

  • Water
  • Flavored water
  • Plain and flavored seltzer
  • Skim milk, skim plus and 1 percent reduced fat milk
  • Soy milk
  • Green tea
  • Chamomile tea
  • Coffee
  • Skim latte, skim cappuccino and skim café au lait
  • Low-fat hot cocoa

To learn more about Joy Bauer and healthier eating habits, visit JoyBauerNutrition.com.

© 2013 MSNBC Interactive.  Reprints

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