Cola Drinks are Bad for Your Bones
By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD
Forget about filling up on diet cola if you want to keep your bones healthy. New research from America has confirmed that regularly drinking cola – including diet varieties – is bad for women’s bones and may increase the risk of osteoporosis in later life.
The researchers measured bone mineral density – a test that helps to determine the strength of bones – in the spine and hip of more than 2,500 men and women. They discovered that those women who drank cola regularly – regardless of whether they opted for regular or diet versions – had a significantly lower bone mineral density in their hip compared to those who didn’t drink cola drinks.
The researchers believe the high levels of phosphoric acid in cola may be to blame. “A diet low in calcium and high in phosphorus may promote bone loss, tipping the balance of bone remodelling towards calcium loss from the bone,” says Dr Katherine Tucker, who led the research.
She suggests more research needs to be carried out to confirm whether people who consume large quantities of cola may be damaging their bones by consuming large amounts of phosphoric acid in a form that contains no calcium.
As part of the normal ageing process, bones lose calcium more quickly than it can be replaced, leading to a reduction in bone density. As a result, the bones gradually lose their strength and become more brittle.
Osteoporosis – a condition that affects half of all women and a fifth of all men over the age of 50 in the UK – occurs when the bones become so weak they fracture easily.
To prevent osteoporosis, it’s important to do everything we can to slow down the loss of calcium from our bones so they stay as strong as possible. And it would seem that cutting down on cola drinks is an easy step we can take to achieve this.
Swapping regular cola for diet varieties is usually one of the first things most of us do when we want to lose a few pounds. However, this research confirms what most health experts have known for years – that all cola drinks have the potential to damage bones.
Indeed, the National Osteoporosis Society recommends cutting down on fizzy drinks to keep bones strong, not just because phosphoric acid has the potential to weaken bones but also because too much caffeine affects the balance of calcium in the body.
Meanwhile, dentists have known for a long time that swapping regular cola for diet versions don’t necessarily benefit teeth, because they still contain acid, which can damage tooth enamel.
If you can’t bear the thought of giving up the fizz and find that it helps to fill you up, opt for sparkling water with a squeeze of fresh lime or lemon juice. Alternatively, add a dash of sugar-free squash or a little unsweetened fruit juice.
You can follow a healthy diet using the food diary and database tools in Weight Loss Resources. Try it free for 24 hours.
For more information on keeping bones healthy and preventing osteoporosis through diet, visit the National Osteoporosis Society at www.nos.org.uk