Sunday, January 29, 2023

Why you need to avoid aerated and sugary drinks


How ironic is the name soft drink considering it is so hard on your body, writes Vinita Alvares Fernandes

How ironic is the name soft drink considering it is so hard on your body. A daily soft drink is more harmful than you think. Juices, aerated sodas, chocolate milkshakes, sugary mocktails or bubble tea… our choices are endless but it all boils down to one question… are these drinks good for you?

The answer is simple. Guzzling sugary beverages isn’t a healthy habit to have. It is not good for you because of how high in sugar content it is. Infact it is even more dangerous than eating chocolates or candy bars. When consumed in excess, the added sugar in soft drinks and sodas can adversely affect your health making them some of the worst consumables ever on your body. Weight gain, diabetes and cardiovascular conditions are some of the deadly side effects.

Here are some reasons to cut down on sugary drinks and sodas — 

  • They turn into fat: An average healthy person has approximately 5 grams of glucose circulating in his or her blood. When you drink a sugary beverage, it enters your bloodstream and raises your glucose levels very quickly, much faster than the same sugar quantity from solid food.  When your body is suddenly exposed to so much sugar, way more than required as energy, it converts this excess glucose into body fat. To make matters worse, our bodies don’t identify drinks as food so it doesn’t give you a sense of satiety either, making you drink more than required. Sugary drinks and sodas are the easiest and most common way to consume excessive amounts of fructose, which overloads your liver and turns the fructose into fat. Some of the fat gets shipped out as blood triglycerides, while part of it remains in your liver. Over time, this can lead to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
  • Belching and heartburn: Aerated drinks contain dissolved carbon dioxide, which turns into gas when it reaches the warm depths of your stomach. Consuming carbonated soft drinks tends to cause repeated belching as your stomach is being stretched due to the accumulation of carbon dioxide gas. The food and stomach acid in your stomach may come up your food pipe as you belch, causing heartburn, nausea leaving a sour after taste in your mouth.
  • Sugary drinks do not make you feel full: The most common form of added sugar is found in sodas. Fructose does not curb your hunger pangs or make you feel full. Hence, when you consume liquid sugar, you are usually just adding numbers to your calorie intake because sugary drinks don’t make you feel full. To take things over the edge, sweet-tasting drinks can even increase your appetite for other high calorie foods. 
  • The sugar in sodas increases belly fat accumulation: High sugar intake equals to weight gain. Fructose is linked to a significant increase in fat around your belly area and organs. This is known as visceral fat or belly fat. Excessive belly fat  is linked to developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Sugary drinks are full of sugar which automatically increases your risk of belly fat which can catapult into other serious issues. 
  • Sugary sodas can cause insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, heart disease and diabetes: The hormone insulin drives glucose from your bloodstream into your cells. But when you load up on sugary soda, your cells become less sensitive, in other words they become resistant to the effects of insulin. When your cells become resistant to insulin, your pancreas makes more insulin to remove the glucose from your bloodstream, increasing your insulin levels. Insulin resistance is arguably the main driver behind metabolic syndrome which is just a hop away from, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Sugar intake has been linked to diabetes and heart disease for donkeys years. 
  • The sugar and acids in sodas are a disaster for your dental health: It is a well-known fact that soda is bad for your teeth. It creates a highly acidic environment in your mouth which can lead to tooth decay, bad breath and just wreaks havoc on your dental health over time. 
  • Sodas are misleading- they come disguised as ‘healthy’: Let’s get one thing straight… diet drinks are not healthy. They contain a lot of hidden sugar which can cause sugar spikes and all the harmful effects of sugary drinks all under the guise of ‘healthy’ drinks. Diet soda contains artificial sweeteners like aspartame or saccharin which comes with its own risks. 
  • Soda contains no essential nutrients- just sugar: Sugary soda contains no essential nutrients. It is not healthy. It has no vitamins, no minerals and no fiber, only sugar. It adds nothing to your diet except excessive amounts of sugar and calories.
  • Drinking too many sugary beverages can shorten your lifespan: If diabetes and obesity didn’t scare you away, maybe the thought of death will send shivers down your spine. Long term consumption of sugary beverages also increases your risk of dying from heart disease, diabetes or certain cancers. 
  • Sugary soda is addictive: Sugary soda is an addictive substance. Binging on sugar has similar effects as recreational drugs due to the dopamine high which can cause an addiction. 

Ways to cut back on liquid sugar —

A sugary beverage now and then isn’t going to do much harm. But on a regular basis, it can be a silent killer. Here are some ways to cut down on your liquid sugar intake:

  • Drink sparkling water instead of sugary soda.
  • Brew your own iced tea instead of opting for store bought. 
  • Add flavour to your water. Sliced fruit can jazz up your plain water.
  • Replace juices with whole fruits. 
  • Water is the best drink.

Conclusion —

Always read the labels to be aware of what you are putting into your body. Paying attention to nutritional information can help you choose drinks that are better for your health. 

Drinking high amounts of sugar-sweetened beverages both diet and regular can have various adverse effects and impact your health negatively. 

Be mindful.

Vinita Alvares Fernandes
Vinita Alvares Fernandes is an Economics graduate, a writer and a Trinity College certified public speaker and communicator

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