Why should we avoid soft drinks?
Americans consume more than 20 billion liter of sugary drinks a year, according to the University of Texas Health Science Center in Tyler. Soft drinks usually contain carbonate, sugar or fructose or artificial sweeteners, phosphoric and citric acid, sodium and plenty of calories.
Most soft drinks contain significant amounts of sugar. One can of cola flavored drink, for example, contains 23 sachets of sugar. In addition, other soft drinks contain high fructose corn or corn syrup or HFCS as a raw sugar ingredient.
What does consumption of sugar or fructose cause?
Sugar is food for bacteria in the mouth. As the bacteria break down the sugar, they release an acidic by-product that “eats” the enamel on the teeth and can increase the risk of tooth decay and inflammation.
Sucrose and fructose do not satiate hunger.
In a study by Purdue University, by DiMeglio DP, Mattes RD, people who drank soft drinks in addition to their current diet, consumed 17% more calories than before and of course consistently gained more weight than those who did not.
In a study of Ludwig DS, Peterson KE, Gortmaker SL in children, frequent consumption of soft drinks was associated with an increased risk of obesity by 60%.
Large amounts of sugar in soft drinks are converted to fat in the liver.
Glucose can be metabolized by every cell in the body, while fructose can only be metabolized by one organ, the liver. Excessive consumption of fructose leads to overload of the liver so as to eventually convert it into fat. Some fats pass out into the bloodstream in the form of triglycerides, while some remain in the liver. Over time, this can contribute to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and an increase in dangerous fat around the abdomen and organs which is known as visceral fat or belly fat. Visceral fat is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Soft drinks can cause insulin resistance.
The overconsumption of sugar they contain causes the pancreas to produce even more insulin in order to transport glucose to the cells from the bloodstream, thus insulin levels in the blood increase greatly and this condition is known as insulin resistance.
Sugary drinks can be the main nutritional cause of type 2 diabetes.
Sugar can also cause resistance to leptin.
Leptin is a hormone produced by the body’s fat cells. Leptin levels change in response to both hunger and obesity, so it is often referred to as satiety or hunger hormone. Resistance to the effects of this hormone – referred to as resistance to leptin – is now considered to be one of the leading drivers of fat growth in humans.
People who drink soft drinks have a higher risk of cancer.
Cancer tends to go hand in hand with other chronic conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Therefore, it is not surprising that sugary drinks are often associated with an increased risk of cancer. A study of more than 60,000 adults found that those who drank two or more soft drinks a week were 87% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than those who did not. Postmenopausal women who drink soft drinks may also be at greater risk for endometrial cancer or cancer of the lining of the uterus. Furthermore, their use has also been linked to cancer recurrence and death in patients with colon cancer.
Sugar consumption is associated with an increased risk of dementia.
The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. Research suggests that any increase in blood sugar is closely linked to an increased risk of dementia. Studies in rodents indicate that large doses of sugary drinks can affect the abilities of memory and making decisions.
In conclusion, the consumption of soft drinks along with added sugar can negatively affect health. The list of soft drinks also includes fruit juices, coffees with high sweetness and other sources of liquid sugar. Maybe we need to bring that into our mind next time we decide to buy soft drinks.
Dr. Nikoleta Koini, M.D.
Doctor of Functional, Preventive, Anti-ageing and Restorative Medicine.
Diplomate and Board Certified in Anti-aging, Preventive, Functional and Regenerative Medicine from A4M (American Academy in Antiaging Medicine).
- Ludwig DS1, Peterson KE, Gortmaker SL. Relation between consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and childhood obesity: a prospective, observational analysis. Lancet. 2001 Feb 17;357(9255):505-8.
- Lenny R. Vartanian, PhD, Marlene B. Schwartz, PhD, and Kelly D. Brownell, PhD. Effects of Soft Drink Consumption on Nutrition and Health: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Am J Public Health. 2007 April; 97(4): 667–675.
- Ludwig DS1, Peterson KE, Gortmaker SL.Relation between consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and childhood obesity: a prospective, observational analysis. Lancet. 2001 Feb 17;357(9255):505-8.
- Jegatheesan P1,2, De Bandt JP3,4. Fructose and NAFLD: The Multifaceted Aspects of Fructose Metabolism. Nutrients. 2017 Mar 3;9(3). pii: E230. doi: 10.3390/nu9030230.
- Gastaldelli A1, Miyazaki Y, Pettiti M, Matsuda M, Mahankali S, Santini E, DeFronzo RA, Ferrannini EJ. Metabolic effects of visceral fat accumulation in type 2 diabetes. Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Nov;87(11):5098-103.
- Elliott SS1, Keim NL, Stern JS, Teff K, Havel PJ. Fructose, weight gain, and the insulin resistance syndrome. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Nov;76(5):911-22.
- Jung CH1, Kim MS. Molecular mechanisms of central leptin resistance in obesity. Arch Pharm Res. 2013 Feb;36(2):201-7. doi: 10.1007/s12272-013-0020-y. Epub 2013 Jan 29.
- Shapiro A1, Tümer N, Gao Y, Cheng KY, Scarpace PJBr J. Prevention and reversal of diet-induced leptin resistance with a sugar-free diet despite high fat content. Nutr. 2011 Aug;106(3):390-7. doi: 10.1017/S000711451100033X. Epub 2011 Mar 22.
- Nicole M. Avena, Pedro Rada, and Bartley G. Hoebel* Evidence for sugar addiction: Behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2008; 32(1): 20–39.
- de Koning L1, Malik VS, Kellogg MD, Rimm EB, Willett WC, Hu FB. Sweetened beverage consumption, incident coronary heart disease, and biomarkers of risk in men. Circulation. 2012 Apr 10;125(14):1735-41, S1.
- Noel T. Mueller,1 Andrew Odegaard,2 Kristin Anderson,2 Jian-Min Yuan,2 Myron Gross,2 Woon-Puay Koh,3 andMark A. Pereira2. Soft Drink and Juice Consumption and Risk of Pancreatic Cancer: The Singapore Chinese Health Study Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2010 Feb; 19(2): 447–455.
- Touger-Decker R1, van Loveren CAm J. Sugars and dental caries. Clin Nutr. 2003 Oct;78(4):881S-892S.