That Thirst-Quenching Soda Is Dehydrating You

Sweet soda might offer you temporary reprieve from the heat and thirst, but that little can sure as heck isn’t hydrating you.

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Jun 9 2016, 7:00pm

Photo via Flickr user Chris Nielsen

It's hot out. You're sweating, and parched as fuck. There's a cool can of soda sitting there, condensation running down the side. Surely, refreshment and hydration are only a tab-pull away?

Wrong. It turns out that the hydration dream we've been sold by the big soda companies is a filthy lie. Sure, quaffing an ice-cold soda might offer you temporary reprieve from the heat and thirst, but that little can sure as heck isn't hydrating you. In fact, sugary sodas appear to be doing just the opposite.

A recent article appearing in the American Journal of Physiology argues that high-sugar beverages aren't rehydrating drinkers, but actually dehydrating them. Authors exposed rats to three separate water bottles: One with fructose and glucose (just like soft drinks), one with plain water, and another with the plant-derived sweetener stevia.

READ MORE: Pepsi Does Not Want to Be A Soda Company Anymore

By recreating heat-induced dehydration in a lab setting, the team of researchers were able to compare the impact that glucose and fructose had on the kidneys and on overall hydration. Ultimately, the rats who drank the rodent cola were more dehydrated and had worse kidney injury than the rats who drank plain water, and even those who had consumed the water with stevia.

In other words, the causal factor appears to have been the fructose and glucose, found in the soft drinks which we so often rely on to quench our summer thirst. And while this study was restricted to rats, its authors did not hesitate to extend their findings to humans. "Our studies raise serious concerns for the common practice, especially among adolescents and young adults, to drink soft drinks as a means to quench thirst following an episode of dehydration," they wrote.

Luckily, humans are starting to get it. Bottled water consumption has climbed 120 percent between 2000 and 2015, while the popularity of sweet carbonated drinks dropped 16 percent over the same period. Even giants like Pepsi are trying to distance themselves from their former flagship colas in favor of healthier products.

With the the tide apparently turning on the shores of hydration, maybe they could start by capitalizing on the rodent market instead.