Lots of people love the sweet, refreshing taste of fizzy soda. But if you have stomach pain after drinking carbonated beverages, you might not enjoy the experience so much. What are the effects of soda on your stomach?
Soda and Your Stomach
One reason you might feel a sharp pain in the stomach after drinking soda is that the carbonation in the drink can cause gas and bloating. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, drinking carbonated beverages moves more air into your digestive tract, which can cause bloating, burping or gas.
That thirst-quenching fizz may taste good, but if you've got a sensitive stomach, it can make you feel pretty gross afterwards. If this is your problem, you'll probably also feel bloated when you consume carbonated water or other fizzy drinks. Try cutting back to see how you feel.
Cola and Stomach Acid
If you've ever researched the effects of colas on stomach acid, you've probably seen some articles that say it helps soothe an upset stomach, and others that assure it does more harm than good. What's the real story?
It all comes down to the way soda interacts with your stomach — and this is different for everyone. While research has not shown a consistent link between soda and acid reflux, carbonated sodas can slightly alter the pH levels in your body, and they can also add air (and therefore pressure) to your stomach and intestines.
But this effect is inconsistent depending on the person. If you struggle with acid reflux, cutting back on soda may alleviate some of your symptoms, but it's probably not a root cause of the problem.
Aspartame Could Cause Stomach Pain
Aspartame, an artificial sweetener found in diet sodas, could also be causing problems for your gut. In a study published in September 2018 in the journal Molecules, researchers found that artificial sweeteners can wreak havoc on your gut's microbiome, the collection of natural bacteria that keep your body functioning at its best.
When your microbiome is disrupted, your body has more trouble digesting foods normally. Your stomach and intestines can also become inflamed and uncomfortable. You may notice common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, like abdominal cramps, constipation and stomach pain.
If diet sodas are your thing, but you're also experiencing stomach pain, aspartame could be the culprit. The good news is, this natural sweetener isn't present in regular cola — but beware of the high sugar content in soft drinks without a "diet" label.
Other Effects of Soda
The effects of soda on your stomach, and on your whole body, go further than just cramping and pain. According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, sugary soft drinks can contribute to everything from weight gain to heart disease and other chronic illnesses.
Soda may taste good, but it's full of empty calories that provide little to no nutrition for your body. It may taste good in the moment, but in the long run, it can ravage your overall physical health. If you love the taste of carbonated beverages, but want to cut back on sugar, try drinking carbonated water or another fizzy drink that uses all-natural ingredients without sweetener.
If you're experiencing stomach pain after drinking carbonated beverages, it's best for your overall health if you cut back your consumption. And as always, talk to your doctor if these symptoms become unmanageable or if you don't notice them getting any better when you moderate your soda intake.
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Symptoms & Causes of Gas in the Digestive Tract"
- BMC Gastroenterology: "Dietary Guideline Adherence for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease"
- Molecules: "Measuring Artificial Sweeteners Toxicity Using a Bioluminescent Bacterial Panel"
- The BMJ: "What Is the Microbiome?"
- Mayo Clinic: "Irritable Bowel Syndrome"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Sugary Drinks"