All that glitters is not gold, so the old saying goes. Interestingly, this adage finds application with regards to sugary beverages and the increasing rates of their consumption nowadays. Soft drinks of diverse sorts and varieties including soda, sports drinks and fruit juices are in vogue everywhere. While they may be friends with your tongue, they are not that nice to your body.
Though sugary drinks are indeed refreshing and energizing, what the manufacturers of these products often fail to tell us is the potential havoc they can wreak on the body organs if consumed in excess. In fact, sugar-sweetened beverages have been documented to account for about 180000 global deaths annually. To buttress the aforementioned facts, numerous studies have established strong links between heavy consumption of sugary beverages and obesity, type 2 diabetes as well as heart diseases. And note that no amount of exercise can completely neutralize, as some would prefer to believe, the harmful impact of excess sugary beverage consumption.
Some of the risks you invariably expose yourself to when you indulge in those sugar-sweetened beverages are discussed below:
1. Obesity/Weight Gain
It is worthy of note that sugary beverages are calorie-dense but offer little or no nutritional benefits. Unfortunately, the body does not compensate for these extra calories by reducing your intake since you hardly feel full after consuming these drinks. So how does the body then handle this extra load of calories? The liver converts it to fats, eventually setting the stage for obesity and its associated problems. Statistically, it has been shown that one extra soft drink a day makes it 60% more likely that your child would become obese. Similarly, adults who regularly drink one or more sugary beverages per day are 27% more likely to be obese than their counterparts. Hence, if you are hoping to shed some weight and enjoy the benefits of healthful weight loss, then you need to cut down on those soft drinks.
This is a chronic metabolic disorder in which the body is unable to properly handle substrates especially glucose. Sugar-sweetened beverages have been linked to increased incidence of insulin resistance such that the hormone insulin is unable to drive glucose from the bloodstream into the cells where it is actually needed for metabolism. The result is that diabetic patients often end up losing weight despite increased appetite. In a recent study, it was discovered that individuals who consistently consumed 1 – 2 sugary drinks everyday increased their risk of developing type-2 diabetes by up to 26%. Sadly, diabetes mellitus is a multi-systemic problem that may damage several organs in the body including the brain, eyes, heart and kidneys.
3. Heart Disease
Several risk factors for heart disease like obesity, elevated triglycerides and LDL cholesterol are promoted by sugar-sweetened beverages. Hence, it is understandable how they contribute to the incidence of heart disease. According to a research, it was observed that men who drank at least one can of sugary drink everyday increased their risk of suffering a heart attack or dying from a heart attack by up to 20%. A similar trend has also been demonstrated among women.
As earlier discussed, the risk of obesity is significantly higher among those who indulge in excess sugary drinks. Invariably, their risk is also increased for cancers associated with obesity such as colorectal and pancreatic cancers. For instance, the risk of pancreatic cancer is 87% higher among those who drink two or more sugary beverages in a week. Similarly, post-menopausal women with heavy intake of sugary sodas are at an increased risk for developing endometrial cancer.
5. Tooth Decay
It has been shown that sugary drinks are associated with almost twice the risk of tooth decay. The reason for this is not far-fetched. First, sugar makes a good substrate for cavity-forming bacteria in the mouth. Also, carbonic and phosphoric acids found in carbonated soft drinks create an acidic environment inside the mouth which favours tooth decay.
6. Gouty Arthritis
Numerous studies have shown that sugary soda increases the risk of gouty arthritis among women by up to 75%. Gout is characterized by painful inflammation of the joints especially of the large toes. It usually results from elevated uric acid levels in the blood (hyperuricemia), which crystallize and get deposited in the joints. Fructose has been shown to increase uric acid levels and several beverage manufacturers prefer high-fructose corn syrup for sweetening their products.
In conclusion, in order to minimise the deleterious effects of sugary beverages on your health, you may decide to cut down on your daily intake today.
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