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Is Soda Really Bad For Your Kidneys?

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Soda alters urine composition by decreasing magnesium and citrate excretion and increasing oxalate excretion. It, thus, promotes formation of kidney stones. Its fructose and phosphorous content increase risks of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, electrolyte imbalance, renal dysfunction, and chronic kidney disease. Avoid colas, artificially sweetened sodas, and fruit punches.

From sparkling cola to very berry, sodas in all manner of hues and flavors are just the kind of pick-me-up you need to beat the heat or to wash down that snack! But that fizzy drink you’ve been guzzling is under the scanner for a host of health hazards. Studies now show that the impact on our kidneys, in particular, is cause for major concern.

Soda And Kidney Stones

Sodas are a concoction of carbonated water, sugar or fructose syrup, and chemical additives. They also tend to have a great deal of fructose corn syrup and phosphorous. The high level of phosphoric acid in your favorite soda can actually cause urinary changes, raising your risk of getting kidney stones. As one study found, non-cola soda drinkers had as much as a 33 percent higher risk of developing kidney stones, while cola drinkers had a 23 percent greater risk compared to non-soda drinkers.1

Kidney stones usually have four possible constituents – calcium, oxalate, phosphate, and uric acid. Citrate and magnesium, on the other hand, are kidney stone inhibitors. Regular consumption of cola can create the ideal situation for kidney stones to form by decreasing the excretion of magnesium and citrate in the urine and increasing oxalate excretion.2

Colas And Chronic Kidney Disease

Soda consumption is also linked to chronic kidney disease, a condition where the kidney gradually loses function and which may eventually lead to renal failure. One study uncovered that you could also increase your risk of chronic kidney disease by downing as little as two or more colas every day. Test subjects who had this amount of cola doubled their risk of kidney disease. And while this was true of both artificially sweetened and regular cola, researchers in this study concluded that other non-cola sodas did not present this increased risk.3

Unholy Trinity: Fructose, Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, and Chronic Kidney Disease

New research shows that non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is closely tied to kidney problems. It can increase your chances of developing metabolic syndrome, which in turn is a major factor in the pathogenesis of chronic kidney disease. And heavy soda drinkers put themselves at increased risk of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease due to the staggeringly high levels of fructose in the average soda.4

Phosphorus-Linked Kidney Damage

A substantially high level of phosphorus in the blood can lead to an electrolyte disturbance known as hyperphosphatemia, which in turn can cause organ damage, significantly to the kidneys.5

Renal Dysfunction

Also worth noting is that renal dysfunction has been linked to sodium phosphate bowel cleansing preparations.6 Soda contains phosphorus, albeit in smaller quantities. But in the long run and with excessive consumption, the chance of renal dysfunction is a high possibility.

Kidney Function Decline Among Women

Women are said to be especially prone to kidney ailments that may result from excessive artificially sweetened soda consumption. These sodas are popular for their promise of “no sugar” or “low calories.” Unfortunately, while studies have made a connection between kidney dysfunction in women and the consumption of artificially sweetened soda beverages, they have not been able to pinpoint the exact sweetener that causes the risk.

So how much is too much? The consumption of two or more servings of low-calorie artificially sweetened soda drinks per day by women is said to increase the risk of kidney function decline two-fold.7

What Sodas Can You Drink?

The safest bet is to stop drinking colas and artificially sweetened sodas, especially if you have been advised to keep your phosphorus levels in check. Light colored sodas in flavors like lemon or lime are usually alright and may not have as much phosphorus. Better yet, make your own lemonade at home. Fruit punch and colas are packed with phosphorus so steer clear of those. Additionally, if potassium is also a problem in your case, stop drinking orange juice or sodas derived from it, and opt for cranberry, apple, or grape instead.8

References   [ + ]

1.Ferraro, Pietro Manuel, Eric N. Taylor, Giovanni Gambaro, and Gary C. Curhan. “Soda and other beverages and the risk of kidney stones.” Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology 8, no. 8 (2013): 1389-1395.
2.Weiss, Gary HJ, Patrick M. Sluss, and Charles A. Linke. “Changes in urinary magnesium citrate, and oxalate levels due to cola consumption.” Urology 39, no. 4 (1992): 331-333.
3.Saldana, Tina M., Olga Basso, Rebecca Darden, and Dale P. Sandler. “Carbonated beverages and chronic kidney disease.” Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.) 18, no. 4 (2007): 501.
4.Ouyang, Xiaosen, Pietro Cirillo, Yuri Sautin, Shannon McCall, James L. Bruchette, Anna Mae Diehl, Richard J. Johnson, and Manal F. Abdelmalek. “Fructose consumption as a risk factor for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.” Journal of hepatology 48, no. 6 (2008): 993-999.
5.Kregiel, Dorota. “Health safety of soft drinks: contents, containers, and microorganisms.” BioMed research international 2015 (2015).
6.Orias, Marcelo, Rex L. Mahnensmith, and Mark A. Perazella. “Extreme hyperphosphatemia and acute renal failure after a phosphorus-containing bowel regimen.” American journal of nephrology 19, no. 1 (1999): 60-63.
7.Lin, Julie, and Gary C. Curhan. “Associations of sugar and artificially sweetened soda with albuminuria and kidney function decline in women.” Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology 6, no. 1 (2011): 160-166.
8.Chronic Kidney Disease: What Does it Mean for Me? National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.

CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.

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