This article is purely for informational purposes and not intended to treat or diagnose any conditions.
That seeming harmless can of soft drink or soda with lunch, dinner or as a quick thirst quencher can quickly expand your waistline, shoot up your blood sugar through the roof and cause inflammation in your body that can lead to all sorts of serious illnesses and disease.
And if you thought that diet soft drinks were any better, you are in for a nasty shock (but more of that in Part 2 next week).
Today we’ll be looking at the possible risks and effects of sugar-based soft drink/soda and what is really happening on the inside of your body.
SUGAR – Enemy Number 1.
First a bit of science - sugar is the generalized name for sweet, short-chain, soluble carbohydrates. They are simple carbohydrates composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Simple sugars are called monosaccharides and include glucose, fructose and galactose. The table or granulated sugar we commonly use is sucrose, a disaccharide. (In the body, sucrose is converted into fructose and glucose.) How our body processes sugar and the quantity we consume can greatly affect the state of our health.
While you may not think it, sugary drinks are one of the most fattening aspect of today’s modern diet. If you want to lose weight, or avoid gaining it, then reducing or even eliminating these drinks from your daily diet.
Currently sugary drinks are by far one of the worst products on the market because they do not satisfy your hunger nor do they provide your body with any significant nutrients and did you know a SINGLE can of soda contains the equivalent of 10 TEASPOONS OF SUGAR! For the first time in history parents are expected to outlive their children due to their sugar consumption - that really gives you something to think about.
So what makes sugary soft drinks so bad?
Sugary drinks are by far one of the worst products on the market because they do not satisfy your hunger nor do they provide your body with any significant nutrients.
Sugar puts a lot of load on the liver. While glucose can be metabolized by every cell in the body, fructose can only be metabolized by the liver and sugary drinks are the easiest (and most common) way to consume excessive amounts of fructose. If your diet is loaded with sugar the liver becomes overwhelmed and turns the fructose into fat. Some of the fat gets shipped out as blood triglycerides, while part of it remains in the liver. Over time, this can contribute to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease which can cause inflammation and scarring of the liver in severe cases.
Sugar makes you fat. In one study, people who added soda on top of their current diet ended up consuming 17% more calories than before. That is a huge amount. Another study in children, each receiving a daily serving of sugar-sweetened beverages was linked to a 60% increased risk of obesity – now that is scary. Where you put on fat can also be affected by your sugar consumption. For example excessive sugar consumption makes you more prone to storing more body fat, particularly visceral fat, or belly fat which is associated with higher risks of metabolic disorders, diabetes and heart disease.
Sugared soft drinks/soda can also lead to insulin resistance, which is a key feature of metabolic syndrome. The main function of the hormone insulin is to keep our blood sugar in a certain healthy range which does through driving glucose from the bloodstream into cells (to then be used for energy) however when we consume too much sugar the cells tend to become resistant to the effects of insulin. This puts stress on the pancreas that must now make even more insulin to remove the glucose from the bloodstream, so insulin levels in the blood go up. This leads to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is arguably the main driver behind metabolic syndrome and a pre-cursor to type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Over consumption of soft drinks/soda may be a leading of Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a very common disease, affecting about 300 million people worldwide. Given that sugar heavy drinks can lead to insulin resistance, it is not surprising to see that various studies show a strong correlations between soft drink/soda consumption and type 2 diabetes. All it takes is one can of soft drink/soda per day to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes In a recent study looking at sugar consumption and diabetes in 175 countries, each 150 calories (about one can of soda) of sugar per day was linked to a 1.1% increase in type 2 diabetes. So in other words if the entire population of a country like the USA added one can of soda to their daily diet, almost 3.5 million people might become diabetic.
Soft drinks/soda contain zero nutrients for your body. Sugar is just empty calories. They do not contain ANY essential nutrients no vitamins, no minerals, no antioxidants – zilch, nada, nothing! It literally adds nothing to your diet except added sugar and unnecessary, fat building, diabetic forming, inflammation causing calories.
Soft drinks/soda may cause leptin resistance. Leptin is a is a hormone that is produced by the body’s fat cells which is responsible for the long-term regulation of energy balance dictating the number of calories we eat and burn every day and controls our feeling of hunger. Being resistant to this hormone’s effects (called leptin resistance) is now believed to be among the leading drivers of fat gain.
Sugar is addictive and that makes it dangerous because it is so easily accessible to us. When we eat sugar, dopamine is released in the brain, giving us a feeling of pleasure and our brain is hardwired to seek out activities that release dopamine. Activities that releases huge amounts are especially desirable. This is actually how certain addictive drugs function, and the reason people crave them. Numerous studies suggest that sugar and processed junk foods in general, can have similar effect on us. For certain people with a predisposition to addiction, this causes reward-seeking behavior typical of addiction to abusive drugs. This is also known as food addiction.
There are numerous studies that link sugary drinks to an increase in heart disease. Sugar-sweetened drinks increase some of the main risk factors for cardiovascular disease including blood sugar, blood triglycerides, LDL particles and more. One study following 40,000 men for twenty years found that those who drank one sugary drink per day had a 20% higher risk of having a heart attack, or dying from a heart attack, compared to men who rarely consumed sugary drinks.
Soft drinks may increase your risk of cancer. The risk of cancer tends to go hand-in-hand with other chronic diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. For this reason, it is not surprising to see that sugary drinks are frequently associated with an increased risk of cancer. One study of over 60,000 men and women found that those who drank two or more sugary sodas per week were 87% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than those who did not drink soda. Another study showed postmenopausal women with high intakes of sugary soda also appear to be at greater risk for cancer in the inner lining of the uterus, called endometrial cancer. Sugar-sweetened drinks have also been linked to cancer recurrence and death in patients with colorectal cancer.
Soft drinks/soda can damage your teeth. You might be using those white strips and mouth washes but if you are consuming sugary soft drinks you’re kind of wasting your time. Soda contains acids like phosphoric acid and carbonic acid and these acids create a highly acidic environment which makes the teeth vulnerable to decay. While the acids in soda can themselves cause damage, it is the combination with sugar that makes soda particularly damaging. Sugar provides easily digestible energy for the bad bacteria in the mouth. This, combined with the acids, wreaks havoc on dental health over time leading to decay, cavities and erosion of the tooth enamel.
Soft drink/soda drinkers have a dramatically increased risk of gout. Gout is a painful medical condition characterized by inflammation and pain in the joints, particularly the large toes. Gout typically occurs when high levels of uric acid in the blood become crystallized. Fructose is the main carbohydrate known to increase uric acid levels. Long-term studies have shown that sugary soda is linked to a 75% increased risk of gout in women, and almost a double risk in men.
Sugar may increase your risk of dementia. Dementia is the collective term used to describe neuro-degenerative conditions that can occur as we grow older. The most common form is Alzheimer’s disease. Research has found that any incremental increase in blood sugar is strongly associated with an increased risk for dementia. In other words, the higher your blood sugar, the higher the risk of dementia. Because sugar-sweetened beverages lead to rapid spikes in blood sugars and can raise blood sugar by causing insulin resistance, it makes sense that they could increase your risk of dementia. So not only do sugary drinks wreak havoc on metabolic health, they appear to be seriously harmful for your brain as well.
Apart from the sugar soft drinks in plastic bottles contain a toxic chemical called bisphenol A (BPA) that can leach from bottles into soda and into your body. There is some evidence to suggest links between BPA to a myriad of maladies, including immune system depression and reproductive disorders. Public health experts recommend that we protect children (and ourselves) from exposure to products containing BPA-especially those consumed or used regularly.
If you want to lose weight, avoid chronic disease, live longer, have a sharper brain and a healthier body then consider avoiding sugary drinks or indulging in them only occasionally.