How Bad are Sugary Drinks for Your Health?

When it’s sunny and hot outside, nothing tastes better than a chilled drink. Unfortunately, the majority of them come with as much as 10 teaspoons of sugar per bottle or can. Considering that there about four grams of sugar in one teaspoon, you can imagine what goes down your body when you consume that soft drink. We drink too many sugary drinks that in 2018, the government introduced a sugar tax to check the growing cases of obesity in children. Sugary drinks contribute to the increasing number of overweight children and adults in America. And not just that, the health effects of drinking large amounts of sugary drinks negatively contribute to both your mental and physical health.

Why Sugar is Bad for You

The only thing that sugary drinks such as sodas and energy drinks provide is a high number of calories and sugar, with zero nutrients. The other disadvantage of taking sugary drinks is that they don’t make you feel full as taking the same amount of calories from food.

If you frequently consume these sweetened drinks, your risk of developing chronic diseases doubles. Here’s how sugary drinks affect your health:

Diabetes

One research by the Nurses’ Health Study followed the lifestyle of over 90,000 women for eight years to determine how sugar-sweetened drinks affected their health. Strong evidence indicated that those who consumed soft drinks or fruit punch were twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who didn’t. Every time you consume sugar, the sugar levels in your bloodstream increase, signaling the release of insulin. The more soft drinks you consume, the more the pancreas is forced to release even more insulin. If this trend goes on for some time, your body adapts and grows immune to insulin. And as you know, more insulin is required by the body to do its job. This process leads to insulin resistance which can cause type 2 diabetes.

Weight Gain

Unfortunately, consumption of all kinds of sugary drinks has been on a steady rise in recent years compared to the 1950s. In one study in 2005, sugary drinks ranked first as the top source of calories in teen’s diets hitting 226 calories per day. On any given day, one in every four Americans takes in at least 200 calories from the sugar-sweetened drinks and five percent of the population consumes at least 550 calories – which translates to about four cans of soft drinks or energy drinks per day. With the daily recommended caloric intake of added sugar at less than 10 percent, this level far exceeds the limit.

Consumers need to realize that drinking a certain amount of calories is not the same as eating the same number of calories. Food makes you full whereas the brain doesn’t receive the feel-full signals from calories from drinks. This increases your risks of gaining weight.

Heart Disease

Several studies have been conducted to investigate the effects of consuming sugary drinks. One fact that all these studies agree on is that there’s a 20 percent higher risk of having a heart attack for those who consume these drinks daily than those who rarely drink them. Sugary drinks have a direct impact on heart health. For one thing, a high sugar intake puts you at a greater risk of obesity, being overweight and type 2 diabetes. For another thing, they also increase blood triglyceride levels which increases the risk for cardiovascular disease.

Tooth Decay

Soft drinks are specially to blame for poor dental health. And because kids get exposed to the effects of added sugar from soft drinks early in life, they are more at risk of dental erosion. To counter these effects, parents are advised to limit the number of soft drinks they give to their children and instead replace them with healthier options like water and milk.

Gout

Gout is a condition that affects the joints, especially the big toes. It’s primarily caused by excess uric acid levels in the blood. Although fructose is known to increase the levels of uric acid in the blood, research has also linked sugar-sweetened drinks to cause gout. The studies further indicate that 75 percent of women are more at risk of developing gout compared to 50 percent of men.

Higher Risks of Cancer

Where chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity are, cancer closely follows. Researchers have concluded that the risk for developing pancreatic cancer in adults who consumed more than two cans of sugary drinks was 87 percent higher than those who rarely consumed these drinks. This seems to affect women more than it does men. Postmenopausal women were shown to have a greater risk for endometrial cancer, or cancer that affects the lining of the uterus. What’s worse, sugary drinks are linked to the recurrence of cancer and an increase in deaths in patients with colorectal cancer.

Sugary Drinks Are Addictive

Various studies suggest that sugar and junk foods have an almost similar effect on your brains like drugs. Sugar was shown to trigger the release of dopamine, the pleasure hormone. This means that individuals taking sodas and other sugar-sweetened drinks feel a sense of reward. Regular consumption can make your body dependent on the sugar to have that ‘feel-good’ vibe.

All images by Pixabay

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