Is Soda Acidic? – How Cola Impacts Digestion

Coke AcidicHow exactly did so many of us come to be pouring highly acidic cola down our throats over and over again each day? And what kind of effect is this acid drink having on our digestion?

How Acidic is Cola?

Short of drinking straight vinegar, cola is about the most acidic thing you can buy to drink. Cola has a pH of around 2.5 (testing seems to come up with results ranging from 2.3 to 3.5 but a pH of 2.5 is commonly cited for regular cola).

In the way these things are ranked, a pH of 2.5 is about 10,000 times stronger on the acid scale than water.

To get an idea of just how acidic that is, battery acid that will eat away your skin has a pH of 1. Maybe this is why soda manufacturers choose to load it with such massive amounts of sugar or high fructose corn syrup. They need it to help disguise the acidity.

Clean water has a pH of 7 and our blood needs to maintain a pH balance of between 7.35 and 7.45 for cellular processes to function properly. When your blood has a pH below 7.35 it is considered too acidic and blood acidosis is associated with many health problems and diseases.

Soda and Your Digestive System

While a healthy digestive tract’s buffering systems should prevent cola’s acidity from directly reaching your bloodstream, these countermeasures can be costly.

Minerals stored in the body such as calcium phosphate are drawn upon by the phosphate buffering system to counteract strong acids like the phosphoric acid in cola. Calcium phosphate is an important component of our bones and teeth. But the more acidic foods and liquids we consume, the more calcium phosphate is drawn upon to neutralize them.

It’s not just a case of there not being enough calcium to maintain healthy bones and teeth. Over time, with high consumption of acid drinks like cola, calcium can actually be drawn from the bones and teeth to deal with the ongoing acidic onslaught to your digestive system.

When this happens our teeth become weaker and more likely to decay, our bones become more brittle and easier to fracture and the eventual result can be crippling osteoporosis. This study of over 25,000 people suggested cola consumption specifically, rather than just carbonated drinks in general, is directly related to an increased risk of osteoporosis.

Cola, Phosphoric Acid and Hydrochloric Acid

Cola DigestionYour mouth lining, throat and esophagus are all very sensitive to acids like phosphoric acid and may become irritated with regular exposure to cola. But what about your stomach?

Some people believe that because the hydrochloric acid in your stomach is of a lower pH, at around 2 or less than cola’s pH of 2.5, its acidity should have no effect.

Unfortunately, it seems that exposure to phosphoric acid can actually reduce the secretion of HCl in your stomach. Poor hydrochloric acid secretion is a big problem for proper digestion, particularly protein digestion.

Mineral absorption is also impaired with low HCl. But even more relevant in the case of flatulence formation, reduced hydrochloric acid in the gastric juices can allow potentially dangerous bacteria, yeasts and other parasites in food to survive the stomach where they are normally neutralized. These pathogens are then free to move on to the intestines where they can cause all manner of health issues.

Excess liquids alone can dilute stomach acid, which is bad enough for digestion. Add the phosphoric acid, massive quantities of sugar and the various chemicals in cola to the mix and we are really tempting digestive problems and flatulence.

Giving Up Acidic Soda

All of this is assuming you have a healthy stomach in the first place. Many people report stomach pain after drinking cola and doctors generally advised against drinking sodas of any kind when you have an irritated stomach or stomach ulcers.

Good advice, but probably a bit too late by then. Replace cola now and you may avoid ever having these problems in the first place. Even better, you’ll be likely to lose weight, be much healthier and regain some real energy that doesn’t rely on that jittery caffeine rush and insulin provoking sugar spike and crash.

Have you ever tried giving up soda? It seems the ingredients in cola make it particularly hard for some people to stop drinking it. I’d be interested to hear about your experiences, especially how you felt in the days immediately after giving it up.

It’s not really a question of is soda acidic, but rather, just how much damage is the acidity in cola doing to you personally. In the pages ahead there is a simple plan to quit soda to help anyone stop drinking soda or diet soda while minimizing caffeine and aspartame withdrawal symptoms.

Photo 1 credit with thanks: alan.stoddard / Photo 2 credit with thanks: billaday


2 Responses to “Is Soda Acidic? – How Cola Impacts Digestion”

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  1. George Curious says:

    I felt fine after quitting. I didn’t really notice more energy, but I did notice my newfound ability to actually fall asleep at night. I probably do have more energy, though. I haven’t drank sodas for about 6 months, now. Except…occasionally. I’ve had 3-4 sodas within that time frame, usually after or during a meal that I could eat without soda. Probably sparked that in my brain, “Oh, I drink sodas with this meal,” then I semi unconsciously grab one. :/

    • James says:

      Hi George and thanks for your comments.

      It’s not surprising sleep is easier with how wired a few sodas can make you. You’re right about there being a habitual component of soda addiction. I wrote about how to overcome that here – – but it looks you’re doing well with letting go of it.

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