Soft Drinks & Bone Health
Many people enjoy drinking sodas. They are sweet, fizzy, and sometimes come with caffeine to help pep you up. However, many people wonder if they are unhealthy to consume.
There have been several large epidemiological studies that found that women who drink one or two sodas on a daily basis tend to have a lower bone density. Other studies have shown regular soda consumers are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis and experiencing bone fractures. One study found that only consumers of cola-type sodas experienced a lower bone density, but not consumers of other types of sodas.
However, there have also been a number of similar studies that found no link between soda consumption and bone health. All of these studies, both the ones that found a link between soda and bone health and the ones that did not, were low-quality observational studies that cannot prove causation.
Some researchers wondered whether it might be phosphoric acid, which is a common ingredient in cola-type soft drinks, causing the problem. Others wondered if it was the carbonation or the caffeine present in some sodas. Still others wondered if consuming soda instead of other types of beverages that may have some health benefits, such as green tea, coffee, milk, or fortified juice, may be playing a role.
It’s not the carbonation
In 2005, a small prospective study was conducted to test the carbonation hypothesis. Postmenopausal women were assigned to either drink a quart of carbonated mineral water or a quart of non-carbonated mineral water daily for eight weeks. Then, their urine and blood were tested for markers of bone turnover and no difference was found between the two groups.
It’s not the sugar
The WHO h3ly recommends that people of all ages try very hard to reduce their sugar intake to less than 50 g per day. A single serving of soda can contain 40 g of sugar. Of course, there are many “diet” soda options available that use artificial sweeteners instead of sugar, and these non-sugary options were, in some but not all studies, still linked to adverse effects on bone health.
Is it a reduced dairy intake?
The theory that soda intake displacing milk is causing poor bone health also seems unlikely to be true. Although it is popularly believed that consuming dairy products promotes good bone health, the evidence is very inconsistent. There is a lot of evidence that consuming dairy products have the exact opposite effect, namely persons with a high intake of dairy seem to have lower bone densities, a higher rate of fractures, and tend to die younger due to certain types of cancer and heart disease, but the evidence is not conclusive either way.
Thus, no one is sure whether soft drinks have an adverse effect on bone health at this point in time nor is there any robust theory as to how they might affect bone health.