Read this and you’ll put down that soda … forever!

So one of my good friends has declared that she is kicking her Diet Coke habit – once again! I have known “Jane” – yes let’s call her Jane – since high school and I have always told her how bad soda was for her and especially diet soda but she kept on drinking it…and drinking it…and drinking it – you get the picture.

Well now Jane has kids and is pretty on top of what they eat; picture lots of whole, natural foods, fruits and vegetables with the occasional Twinkie thrown in because hey they are kids right! She also knows that what she eats and drinks is a model for what her kids will eat and drink, so she has decided that she is giving up her precious Diet Coke – she is doing great and is down to just 1 a day (this is definitely a BIG accomplishment for her). I found the following article online at WomansHealthMag.com and sent it over to Jane to help incent her to give up that last daily soda, I thought it might be helpful and educational for all our readers here too!

The Disturbing Side Effect of Drinking One Soda a Day

Okay, we’re officially kicking the bubbly habit.

PUBLISHED: OCTOBER 21, 2014 | BY RODALE NEWS

This article was written by Julia Westbrook and provided by our partners at Rodale News.

The reasons to give up soda just keep mounting: cancer, cavities, and even water pollution. Now you can add accelerated cellular aging to that list, according to research published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Looking at DNA samples of 5,309 participants, the researchers found that drinking soda was related to shorter telomere length in white blood cells. The researchers estimated that drinking 20 ounces of soda daily made you 4.6 years older.

“[Telomeres] are protective caps at the ends of chromosomes,” says Lauren Kessler, author of Counterclockwise. “Just as plastic tips keep your shoelaces from unraveling, telomeres keep your DNA from beginning to fray during cell division.” Previous research has shown that as telomeres get shorter (generally from age-related damage), your cells stop dividing. Cell division is what keeps us youthful and keeps our organs functioning properly.

Essentially, cellular aging due to telomere shortening is at the root of many health issues, such as inflammation, insulin resistance, and oxidative damage to tissue. The researchers point out that telomere length has even been connected to lifespan.

“Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened sodas might influence disease development, not only by straining the body’s metabolic control of sugars, but also through accelerated cellular aging of tissues,” says study author Elissa Epel, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at University of California, San Francisco, in a press release.

Surprisingly, the connection between sugar and telomere length was independent of other sugar-related issues like obesity or diabetes. In fact, sugar issues and aging go hand-in-hand. “One of the most devastating of the so-called age-related changes, according to Tufts [researchers], is reduced blood-sugar tolerance, the body’s ability to use glucose in the bloodstream,” she says. “By age 70, they say, 20 percent of men and 30 percent of women have abnormal glucose-tolerance levels.”

So how many people are shortening their lives by 4.6 years by downing a daily 20-ouncer? According to the researchers, the answer is 21 percent of Americans!