Really think again the next time you want to grab a soda with your sandwich or an energy drink when you’re groggy. Research shows the damage these drinks can do to your heart is alarming.
A recently released review published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology shows that consuming just one or two servings of soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages per day can lead to a 35 percent greater risk of getting a heart attack or fatal heart disease. These drinks can also put you at a 16 percent greater risk for a stroke and as much as a 26 percent increased risk for type 2 diabetes.
A single 12-ounce can of soda contains roughly 35 grams (or nearly nine tablespoons) of sugar, most of it from simple sugars, glucose and fructose. Consuming too much glucose can increase your insulin levels, which can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes. Guzzling large amounts of fructose can be damaging to your liver, raising your triglyceride levels which can cause an increased risk for heart disease as well as atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in your arteries), liver scarring and increased belly fat, among other things.
Researchers of the review say sugar-sweetened drinks are even more dangerous because most are not made with solid sugars. "The fact it's in liquid form is something that's really of concern, because the sugars are absorbed really rapidly," said research author Vasanti Malik, a nutrition research scientist at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. "They enter the bloodstream very quickly."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed creating a new nutrition facts label for packaged food and drinks that will give consumers a better understanding of what’s in their food (like how much unnatural sugar has been added to your beverage). But until then, the best thing you can do is simply avoid sodas and other sugary drinks. It may be hard to go cold turkey, but cutting down in moderation and switching to water or even diet or sugar-free drinks could be an eventual life-saver.
For an example of what soda can do to your body, consider George Prior, who drank ten Cokes a day for a month to see how it would change his body. After 30 days, he gained 23 pounds, increased his body fat by 65 percent and saw his blood pressure rise from 139/77 to 143/96.
What alternatives do you drink instead of sugar-sweetened sodas or juices?