If the average American soda consumption is 1-1/2 cans a day, that means that some of us are drinking a LOT more than that. Soda junkies could be in danger of hypokalaemia, or serious potassium deficiency that can cause weakness, nausea and heart problems. A recent analysis of studies on soda and potassium levels found that drinking soda all day (we're talking 9 to 18 cans, or between 1 and 3 big, 2-liter bottles) caused increased excretion, and thus depletion, of potassium. One soda-loving farmer drank so much of the stuff his lungs were paralyzed -- but in this, as in other cases (pregnant women are particularly susceptible to the problem), normal function returned once sodas were sworn off.
This may help explain the increased hypertensive risk among those who drink the most soda, especially children: Potassium is essential for regulating blood pressure levels, so when it's flushed out of your system, your blood chemistry goes haywire. Potassium deficiency also increases your risk of kidney stones, osteoporosis, stroke and muscle loss. An alarming 90% of men and 99% of women fail to get enough potassium in their diets -- which is why, in addition to cutting back on soda you need to make sure you're meeting potassium requirements with healthy sources like potatoes, beans, kiwis, and of course, bananas!
Fun Fact: Which country consumes the most cola? If you instinctively thought "America," you could be wrong. Consumption stats published by Coca-Cola show the bottler's best customer is actually Mexico, followed by Chile, then the U.S.