Is Soda Bad for Your Kidneys?

Soda varieties come with a refreshing fizzy feeling and varieties ranging from light, citrus drinks to strong, dark colas. Unfortunately, compounds contributing to that fizzy feeling and those flavors can have negative effects on your kidneys. But you can avoid these negative effects and continue to enjoy your favorite drink by limiting yourself to one soda per day.

Two tall glasses of soda. (Image: Hue/amanaimagesRF/amana images/Getty Images)

Cola and Kidney Disease

Your kidneys are primarily responsible for removing wastes and excess water from your body. Chronic kidney disease involves a gradual decline in your kidneys' ability to execute these functions properly. A study published in the journal "Epidemiology" in 2007 suggests that having two or more regular or diet colas per day can increase your risk of chronic kidney disease. Despite the preliminary nature of these findings and the need for more research, you should try to have no more than one cola per day to avoid potentially increasing your risk of chronic kidney disease.

Soda and Kidney Dysfunction

According to the same study in "Epidemiology," colas contain phosphoric acid, which contributes to greater kidney stone formation. Although not all sodas contain phosphoric acid, nearly all regular sodas can contribute to greater stone formation and overall kidney dysfunction. According to a 2009 review of the research in the "Journal of the American Society of Nephrology," this is because of the most prominent sweetener in regular sodas: fructose. Whether on its own, in the form of glucose-fructose, or as high-fructose corn syrup, this sugar can increase kidney stone formation and damage kidney cells.

Diet Sodas and Kidney Dysfunction

Diet sodas do not contain fructose or other natural sugars. As a result, you might think that you can avoid the negative effects on your kidneys as long as you avoid regular sodas and colas. A 2011 research article in the "Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology," however, indicates that even diet sodas have negative effects on your kidneys. These researchers found that over time, women who drink two or more diet sodas per day experience a significant decline in their kidneys' ability to filter wastes from the bloodstream. Although the reason for this is unclear, you should be just as careful with your consumption of diet sodas as regular sodas.

Diet Citrus Sodas and Stone Prevention

The only exceptions to the general rule of the negative impact of soda on kidney function seem to be diet citrus sodas and diet ginger ales. In place of the kidney-damaging phosphoric acid in colas, these beverages contain citric acid. According to a study published in the "Journal of Urology" in 2010, this compound binds with calcium in your kidneys, helping to remove it and prevent the formation of kidney stones. Although promising, these potential benefits of diet citrus sodas and diet ginger ales have not been tested in humans. Rather than take the risk with sodas, a healthier way to boost your citric acid intake is to add more citrus fruits to your diet, such as oranges, limes and grapefruits.

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