It’s a baking summer day. You’ve just returned from a round of basketball with your buddies. Parched, you open your fridge, your eyes running over the contents. Since soda contains caffeine — it’s no surprise that the question “Does soda cause Dehydration?” Let’s understand.
You see the water but a split second later, your gaze lands on the jackpot-a bottle of cola. Nothing hits the spot quite like a swig(or four) of fizzy, bubbly, refreshing cola.
Only, a little while later, you’re back in front of the fridge, feeling thirstier and contemplating another glug. What gives? Could soda be worsening your thirst and making you dehydrated? With Americans drinking 38.87 gallons of soda per person in 2018, that question certainly needs answering. Let’s find out.
What is Dehydration?
As the NHS explains very succinctly, dehydration is when your body loses more water than you take in. Dehydration can be caused by a variety of reasons such as too little fluid intake, excessive sweating, heavy exercise and derangements in metabolism.
Given that our bodies are 70% water and water plays a vital role in almost all chemical processes in our bodies, dehydration is a condition that must be treated swiftly lest it becomes life-threatening.
Does Soda Contain Enough Water to Hydrate You?
Let’s get back to soda for a moment. It has always been said that soda is nothing but flavoured, fizzy sugar water. So it ought to be good for dehydration right? All that sugar might not be doing us any favours but the water must surely be good for us.
The truth is more complex.
Despite the seemingly copious amounts of caffeine and sugar, sodas are still 85-99% water. This means that most sodas do contain enough water to hydrate you. That means soda cause Dehydration.
Does Soda Cause Dehydration?
One thing we must understand is that when our body loses water, it also loses essential minerals and ions called electrolytes. Replacing just the fluid loss without compensating for electrolyte loss can exacerbate dehydration. What you think – Does soda cause dehydration.
Soda has been accused of not only not helping with hydration but also contributing to dehydration. Many sodas contain caffeine, which is a diuretic- a substance that makes us urinate more frequently. They also have sugar, salt and artificial flavours and preservatives. Anything that makes us pee more often seems like a strict no-no in terms of dehydration.
However, unless you’re severely dehydrated already or you drink excessively high amounts of soda, it’s not going to dehydrate you. The water 85-99% water content in the soda more than makes up for the diuretic effect of the caffeine. So if you were worried about whether your Sprite dehydrates you, worry no more!
How Much Soda is Too Much?
In an ideal world, we would not be drinking any soda. The literature is clear that the amount of sugar in sodas is simply not good for health. But hey! Who doesn’t give in to temptation from time to time?
One can of soda per week is well within permissible limits. Still confused that soda causes dehydration.
However, you should be mindful of not exceeding the limit of more than 2 cans a day.
What are the Best Alternatives to Soda for Hydration?
While soda is not the worst option for hydration there are several better options that you can consider.
- Water– The first item on our list should come as no surprise. Water is the cheapest, most easily available, healthiest and most natural option for hydration. When in doubt, stick to some good old H2O. Tap water also has small quantities of dissolved minerals that increase water absorption in the gut.
- Milk– For those who can digest it, milk is a great choice as it is loaded with minerals like calcium. It is also a fairly good source of proteins and micronutrients.
- Tea– Tea has several health benefits and provides a soothing effect along with hydration.
- Coffee– Despite caffeine being a diuretic, coffee is a great hydration choice and has several positive effects on systemic health.
- Lemonade– Homemade lemonades are a refreshing and simple way to hydrate. They also provide Vitamin C.
- Sparkling Water– Water’s fizzier cousin will hydrate you just fine. You need not worry about dental concerns because studies have shown it to affect enamel just slightly more than regular water
- Sports Drinks– Sports Drinks replenish electrolytes as well as fluids. However, some of them have very high amounts of sugar so you should be careful of consuming too much
- Fruits and Vegetables– Homemade juices and smoothies are some of the best options for hydration with nutrition. But even whole fruits and vegetables like watermelons and cucumbers are excellent sources of hydration
The research is clear. Sodas are not healthy for you. But taken in small amounts they show no evidence of causing dehydration and can be a decent stop gap for hydration if you don’t have access to water. That being said, making them your go-to source of fluids is asking for trouble and you would be far better served going for the healthier alternatives mentioned above.
Here are some answers to frequently asked question