Photo of someone pouring sugar into a cup

15 min read

Health Facts on Sugary Soda: The Truth about Sugar

We probably aren't the first people to tell you that soda isn't nutritious. But what you might not know is just how hazardous sugar-packed soda is for your health. Soda is a beverage crammed with questionable and controversial chemicals that could potentially interrupt and mess with your body's most fundamental and essential processes.

What's Really in Your Can of Soda

Here’s the truth about soda: pretty much everyone, including the makers, knows that soda isn’t a good-for-you product. Soda and other sugary drinks, like energy drinks, are some of the most non-nutritious products because they provide so many calories and virtually no other nutrients.1 In this blog, we are focusing on the health effects of the high amount of sugar found in popular carbonated beverages.

Sugar in Soda

The American Heart Association (AHA), recommends that women consume no more than 25 grams of sugar per day for women and 36 grams per day for men.2 Dr. Pepper, Mountain Dew, A&W Rootbeer, and Pepsi all have over 40 grams of sugar in one can. Meaning by consuming one twelve-ounce can of soda, both men and women exceed their suggested amount of sugar per day.

Thus, the amount of sugar in sodas is one of the main reasons it is not a drink that supports overall health. When it comes to health, sugar, in general, has a bittersweet reputation.

Naturally Occurring Sugar VS Added Sugar

Naturally Occurring Sugar

Sugar naturally occurs in all foods that contain carbohydrates, like fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy. These naturally occurring sugars are not the type of sugar to be concerned about because these sugars come with other health benefits, such as fiber, antioxidants, and minerals. Additionally, assuming your natural sources of sugar are coming with some fat, fiber, and/or protein, your body digests these natural and whole foods gradually and the sugar in them provides an ongoing supply of energy to your cells.3

Added Sugar

The sugar in soda, on the other hand, is added sugar. These are sugars that are added to products to increase flavor and or extend shelf life. Consuming added sugar in excess has a variety of well-documented health impacts, such as obesity and diabetes.3

In addition to being more than our recommended amount of sugar per day, the sugar in soda can be detrimental because unlike naturally occurring sugar, the added sugar comes alongside no health benefits. When you eat a fruit, like an apple, you ingest a large amount of sugar alongside fiber and other nutrients. The combination of fiber with sugar slows the release of sugar into the bloodstream, preventing a sudden spike.3

Sugar in sodas, on the other hand, flood our internal organs, sending our pancreas and liver into overdrive. The excess sugar is then converted into fatty globules in the bloodstream, which may lead to heart disease. Moreover, the lack of fiber means that soda does not sufficiently satisfy us.3 Research indicates that consumers who drink sugary beverages do not feel as satisfied as when they eat the same amount of calories from solid food. Therefore, consumers are more likely to not compensate for the calories and sugar consumed and, consequently, eat more food, leading to weight gain.1

Sugar in Soda: Possible Negative Health Effects

The Centers for Disease Control recognizes soda consumption as associated with a long, unpleasant list of health problems, including type 2 diabetes, gout, asthma, and heart, kidney, and fatty liver disease.4 Additionally, added sugar intake increases health risks like higher blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, and fatty liver disease which are all linked to an increased risk for heart attack and stroke.5

Here are the ways in which sugar contributes to soda’s unhealthy reputation and health problems.

Weight Gain

The sugar in soda provides empty calories that do nothing but increase your blood sugar. The empty calories and increased blood sugar combination are two processes known to cause excess body fat. Additionally, sugar is unlike other calories and therefore, it negatively affects your normal appetite controls, which drives your metabolism to convert it into lethal fat.4


Sugar harms your skin through a natural process called glycation. In this process, sugar molecules attach to proteins, collagen, and elastin and form harmful free radicals known as advanced glycation end-products (AGEs). These AGEs are known to impair your skin structure and lead to wrinkles and lines. Moreover, the more sugar you consume, the more these AGEs accumulate.4


When you consume too much sugar, your body responds by sending inflammatory messengers known as cytokines. In this state of inflammation, you are at a higher risk of diseases ranging from digestive disorders to heart disease or even cancer.4

Liver Problems

Consuming too much refined sugar is understood to create a fatty buildup that leads to liver disease. The production of fat in the liver is a process known as lipogenesis. The result is a nonalcoholic fatty liver disease that puts you in danger of a plethora of other chronic diseases. Some research concludes that sugar can be as detrimental to the liver as alcohol.4

Tooth Decay

Sugar erodes your teeth. The naturally present bacteria in your mouth devour the sugar in your diet, which produces acids that demineralize the enamel on your teeth, leading to cavities and tooth loss.4


Sugar forces your blood sugar to increase and then immediately plummet. This crash and burn cycle triggers feelings of irritability and leaves you exhausted until your next sugar fix.4

Brain Health Concerns

According to research conducted by the University of South Wales, chronic sugar consumption creates modifications to the hippocampus, an essential area for memory and stress. In another study led by UCLA found that a high sugar diet undermines learning and memory ability. Moreover, the Mayo Clinic observed in a study that people who overeat sugar have a greater risk of cognitive deterioration as they age.4

Weakened Immunity

Consuming sugar boosts insulin levels which leads to high cortisol levels. Because cortisol is a stress hormone, you put stress on your body, resulting in your immune system not being as strong.4

Heart Health Concerns

Research demonstrates that those who eat more sugar are four hundred percent more likely to suffer from a heart attack.4

Cutting Sugary Soda

As a category, sugary beverages, like soda, are the greatest contributor of calories and added sugar in the U.S. diet.1 Therefore, cutting sugary soda out of your life is an easy way to take one step into removing some added sugar in your diet and combating the harm added sugar causes.

Luckily, with drinks like OLIPOP, it’s easy to cut sugary soda out of your diet! With all of the flavor and fizz of regular soda, OLIPOP is a deliciously fizzy tonic that combines the benefits of prebiotics, plant fiber, and botanicals to support your microbiome and benefit digestive health. Instead of added sugar and ingredients that cause more harm than good, OLIPOP is packed with ingredients that do good for your health and body.


  1. “Sugary Drinks,” The Nutrition Source, September 4, 2013,
  2. “Added Sugars,”, accessed May 11, 2021,
  3. Harvard Health Publishing, “The Sweet Danger of Sugar,” Harvard Health, accessed May 8, 2021,
  4. Vani Hari, Feeding You Lies: How to Unravel the Food Industry’s Playbook and Reclaim Your Health (Hay House Inc, 2019).
  5. “Harvard Health,” Harvard Health, May 1, 2017,
Cheat Sheet
  • Soda and other sugary drinks, like energy drinks, are some of the most unhealthy products because they provide so many calories and virtually no other nutrients.
  • The Centers for Disease Control recognizes soda consumption as associated with a long, unpleasant list of health problems, including type 2 diabetes, gout, asthma, and heart, kidney, and fatty liver disease.
  • Sodas contain added sugar which are added to products to increase flavor and or extend shelf life and are associated with a long list of health ailments.

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