“Honestly, it doesn’t matter that much. I don’t drink soda that often.”
“But it’s diet… so it’s fine, right?”
Million dollar question: how bad, really, is soda for fertility?
Baaaaaaaad, friend. It’s really, really bad.
And I will do ANYTHING short of walking around and knocking sodas out of everybody’s clenching grip to get you to hear me right now.
(But I really should just consider knocking sodas down left and right, it’d be pretty effective. And funny.)
Whatever you call it: soda, pop, soda pop, or you call every kind of soda “coke” like they do here in Texas (super confusing when I first moved here, btw), it’s all going to affect you negatively in one way or another.
Put frankly: don’t drink soda if you want to get pregnant, or be healthy in general.
9 Ways Soda Can Mess With Your Fertility
There is almost ¼ cup of sugar in a 16 oz bottle of coke. Thinking of drinking a ¼ cup of sugar makes me want to vomit a little bit. The amount of added sugar in a 16 oz bottle of coke (52 g) is DOUBLE the amount of recommended added sugar in a day. And you drink that whole thing in what, 15 minutes? Yikes.
And what about diet coke? No sugar, right? WRONG. It has aspartame, which is worse for you in a lot of ways. Not only does it do the same thing in your body that regular sugar does, studies have shown that it actually has more dangerous side effects than regular sugar.
As far as fertility goes, excess amounts of sugar can lead to addiction, weight gain, disrupted hormones, inflammation, poor digestion, and more. Your body then has to pick up the slack to try to repair these things instead of focusing on growing a healthy baby.
Then you have the chemicals, additives, preservatives, and the food coloring. None of these are fertility friendly things you want in your body–before, during, or after pregnancy.
2. Blood Sugar Levels
When you consume that much sugar in one sitting, your body sends the signal that you have a huge amount of sugar in the blood that needs to be taken in. So it spikes your insulin to pick up all the sugar. Then you have a sugar crash. Your blood sugar levels are going up and down like a rollercoaster, and you can feel it in your body.
And time after your time, your body has to produce excess insulin, which means your organs are exhausted from doing work they shouldn’t have to do. Then you get headaches, body aches, you feel fatigued, irritated, etc.
…so you grab a coke.
It’s a vicious cycle and it needs to end! Your hormones are going crazy because your body has too much to do to deal with the copious amounts of sugar you’re drinking. Crazy hormones does not do your fertility any favors.
3. Hormone Disruption
We mentioned that blood sugar levels affect hormones, but there’s additional hormone disruption from things like the BPA in the containers. Here’s a great article that talks about plastics and hormones.
This study done at the University of Utah talks about the correlation of soda and increases in estrogen levels. And when your estrogen levels are too high? Wonky hormones, wonky fertility.
One of the biggest keys to boosting fertility is balancing your hormones!
Soda is a diuretic, which means it increases the amount of water and salt you lose when you pee. When you drink a diuretic like soda (or coffee or tea) you need to drink EXTRA water to make up for the dehydrating effect. The rule of thumb is an extra 1.5x the number of oz of soda you drink. So if you drink a 16oz soda, you need to drink an EXTRA 24oz of water to make up for the water your body lost from drinking the soda. Make sense?
This also means that it’s a lot easier to become dehydrated than you realized. With dehydration comes headaches, dry skin, constipation, feeling tired, muscle cramps, and dizziness… for starters.
Some sodas, like coke, have phosphoric acid in them. Phosphoric acid blocks your intestines’ ability to absorb calcium and magnesium… and then snowball effect: eventually this can cause your body to leach calcium from the bones to maintain the proper pH in the blood since you’re not getting enough calcium.
Let me say that again: phosphoric acid in soda draws calcium from the bones. Caffeine in soda also causes the body to lose more calcium. This is a huge deal! Osteopenia and osteoporosis are on the rise (with an earlier onset age, too!) and soda could be a huge culprit.
6. Gut Health
Sugar, sugar substitutes, and other terrible ingredients found in soda and diet soda disrupts the gut flora in our bodies. We work hard to keep the gut bacteria healthy and happy (by using probiotics, trying to lessen stress and inflammation, etc.) so we can have strong and healthy digestion AND immune systems (did you know 80% of our immune system is in our gut?!).
Soda disrupts gut health, which messes with our digestion and weakens our immune system. Both situations are far from the ideal when you’re trying to get pregnant… you want your body to focus all of it’s extra attention on growing a baby–not making you feel better from the cold you caught because your immune system is shot.
Mold inhibitors (yes, I said MOLD INHIBITORS! Ew.) in diet sodas screw you up on a cellular level and damage your mitochondria. Listen to this quote from Peter Piper, who is a professor of molecular biology and biotechnology at the University of Sheffield.
“These chemicals have the ability to cause severe damage to DNA in the mitochondria to the point that they totally inactivate it – they knock it out altogether.”
Read the study linked here to understand how mitochondria damage negatively impacts fertility.
8. Weight Gain
Soda is full of empty calories. This means they add calories into your diet without adding any nutrients. In fact, the refined sugar in soda actually causes your body to steal nutrients from its stores just to metabolize/digest it.
Empty calories cause you to gain weight because they’re calories that don’t do anything… they don’t nourish you, don’t make you feel full, and actually leave you “emptier” than before (as far as vitamin and mineral stores go). Since you don’t feel full or nourished, you crave more. So you eat more than you need to (and often it’s just more refined, empty calories)… and then gain weight.
If you’re trying to get pregnant, fertility is boosted when you’re at the ideal weight for your height and body type. Excess weight causes hormone problems and other issues in the body that can exacerbate fertility issues.
9. Addiction & Dependence
The ingredients in soda are LITERALLY designed to keep you hooked, coming back for more. Addiction to any substance is physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. And you know what? Getting pregnant requires a lot of physical, mental, and emotional stamina. You need all the help you can get… and a soda addiction is NOT going to help you.
And if you want more of a visual reason, go check out this infographic about what happens to your body within an hour of drinking a diet coke, courtesy of The Renegade Pharmacist.
WHAT TO DRINK INSTEAD
The nectar of the Gods! Your cells depend on water and they’re on their best behavior when you drink enough of it every day. How much is enough? SUCH a great question, friend.
The standard these days is to take your body weight in lbs, and divide that number by 2. That quotient is how many oz of water you should be drinking daily.
EXAMPLE: If I weight 140 pounds, half of that is 70 lbs. So I need at least 70 oz of water every day.
**NOTE**: if you drink a diuretic, you need to multiply the number of oz. of diuretic by 1.5x, and then ADD that to your normal daily water intake to make your new ideal total.
EXAMPLE: If you’re supposed to drink 70oz of water daily from our example above, but you have 8oz of coffee in the morning, you now need to drink at least 82 oz of water that day (8 X 1.5 = 12 oz of extra water… 70+12=82 oz TOTAL WATER).
What’s a diuretic? Basically any drink that dehydrates you… like coffee, tea (except herbal), fruit juice, soda (which you don’t have to worry about since you’re not going to drink soda anymore, riiiight?)
2. Mineral Water with Lime/Lemon
Mineral water is an acquired taste, so keep working to acquire it. 😉 This is a great alternative to soda because it’s got some bubbles to it, but it also has quality minerals that you need anyways. Add some lemon and lime for some natural flavor!
Kombucha is all the rage right now because of it’s gut friendly bacteria. It’s a fermented tea drink (not alcoholic, though), and it has live probiotics, which makes it a great & healthier alternative to soda.
Some brands like Live Soda even have flavors that taste like regular soft drinks, so you could use that as a stepping stone from soda. I wouldn’t recommend it long term though, because of the sugar amount. Opt for other Kombuchas with less sugar once you’ve acquired the taste. 😉
*Kombucha is a diuretic though, so be sure to add extra water to your daily intake. See #1 above).
4. Herbal Tea/Herbal Coffee
Check out this bulletproof tea recipe if you want a fantastic drink to pick you up in the morning or afternoon. Herbal tea has a lot of amazing properties and flavors, and that article has some links to my favorite kinds.
The only herbal tea that IS a diuretic is peppermint (odd, I know), but the other herbal teas you drink can count towards your hydration count. Winning!
HOW TO CONQUER CRAVINGS/WHAT TO EXPECT
You might experience some withdrawal symptoms as you quit your soda habit. That’s normal and to be expected, since the ingredients cause you to get addicted easily.
With the headaches, fatigue, irritability, and cravings, do your best to fight through it. Drink extra water, try these tips in my blog about kicking your sugar habit (including using supplements like L-Glutamine), consider adding collagen into your diet to help with gut health, and take it easy while you transition.
Soda is NOT good for fertility. It’s also just not good for anyone, ever. Please do your absolute best to limit or quit it altogether. Your body and mind will be over-the-moon happy about it, I promise.
*As always, this article is not meant to take the place of professional medical advice. If you’re planning on trying new supplements or implement a new diet, it’s always recommended to consult a healthcare professional first.