Soda’s Secret Cell Sabotage

Drink just 12 ounces of soda a day and it will shorten your telomeres.

20 ounces a day is even worse … it shortens your telomeres as fast as smoking.

Those who drink 20 ounces a day – the “normal” size bottle you can get at any convenience store – have cells that aged 4.6 years faster.1

I discovered these incredible facts researching telomeres and nutrition for my upcoming presentations at two American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M) conferences. It comes from a new study done by Elizabeth Blackburn, who won the Nobel Prize for her work on telomeres in 2009.

Blackburn and her colleagues looked at 5309 Americans, ages 20 to 65, to see how drinking soda would affect their telomere length.

Soda is just one example of how eating, or in this case drinking, can affect your genetic control mechanism. The good news is, now that we’re finding out that we can change our DNA and our epigenome (the chemicals and compounds that change our DNA) through the telomere, we can help you choose how your DNA programming plays out.

We can now use the shortening of the telomere – our aging control mechanism – to affect the physiology in the cell with nutrition. This gives us a more sophisticated and progressive way of advising you on foods and nutritional supplementation.

I call this telo-nutritioneering. It’s bio-engineering for telomeres, and we’re doing it right here at my wellness center.

It’s an entirely new level – and new concept – of how to use nutrients, and how to think about what we put in our bodies.

You get to choose how your genetic program plays out, and you can choose not to drink soda.

Soda is bad for your body in another important way. It’s highly acidic, so it leaches nutrients from your body. When you drink soda it makes your body use its alkaline minerals such as sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium to neutralize the acid and return your pH to normal. Then you don’t have them to maintain and repair your cells and run your body.

There’s so much soda everywhere, and it’s so readily available, that it can be hard to come up with an alternative.

One alternative is to drink tea. Green tea does the opposite of soda. It helps you maintain telomere length through its main component, EGCG. Use lime for flavoring, and if you want a bit of sweetness, use honey.

Plain water is another way to go, and you could flavor your water with some cucumber.

My favorite flavored water is lemon water.  I like lemons best because they help me stay hydrated in the hot Florida sun. Lemons also balance other foods and help your body extract energy from them. Lemons can replace the alkalizing minerals like potassium that processed foods such as sodas leech out of you.

Here are four ways to “lemonize” your drinks:

1. The first thing to do is strain out the lemon juice. I use any old strainer lined with a cheesecloth to keep out the seeds, but you can use a fine strainer, too.

Just let the juice drip out into a container and stick it in the fridge. The next day, mix the juice you get with a pitcher of ice water. The thing I like about this method is you can decide how much lemon juice to add, depending on how strong a flavor you want.

2. You could also cut some lemons in half , cover them in the amount of water you want to drink and let it soak in the fridge overnight. In the morning, strain it into a glass or pitcher and throw away the lemons.

3. Lemons are one of the only fruits I’ll use my juicer for. I like to take about six lemons, juice them, and drink the straight juice without water.

4. The fourth way is to add a bunch of slices of lemon to some ice water, let it sit for a couple of hours, and you’ll have a tasty drink in no time … and one that won’t shorten your telomeres.

To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD
Al Sears, MD

1. Leung C, Laraia B, Needham B, Rehkopf D, Adler N, Lin J, Blackburn E, Epel E. “Soda and Cell Aging: Associations Between Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption and Leukocyte Telomere Length in Healthy Adults From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys.” Am J Public Health. 2014;e1-e7.