Sugary Sodas in the Dock, Say Diabetes Researchers

Sugary and fizzy sodas have never exactly had a reputation as health drinks, but scientists now say they could significantly increase your risk of getting not only diabetes but also even heart disease.  Drink water instead and you will be safeguarding yourself from the extra risk.

America’s favorite drink, Coca Cola, gives you a whacking 97 calories for 8 fl oz – that’s just under a half pint, and Pepsi is even worse at 100 calories.  For this amount of calories you could eat an average serving of 4oz potatoes or about one and a half slices of bread.  Dieters have always known these drinks were fattening, but now scientists have officially linked them with increased risk of diabetes.  All drinks sweetened with sugar are implicated, said Professor Frank Hu from Harvard School of Public Health, where the study was carried out.

Medical advisors have always told people to drink plenty of fluids, especially if they are feeling tired or unwell or have been exercising, and this advice still holds good.  But drinks that have been sweetened with large amounts of sugar add a lot to your daily calorie intake and put you on the road to weight gain and obesity – the most important factor in developing diabetes.  They also cause tooth decay, and the high amounts of caffeine and sodium present in many of these drinks can contribute to high blood pressure.  These sugary drinks are an important part of the western lifestyle that has caused the diabetes epidemic, said Professor Hu.

In theUS25.8 million people are currently living with diabetes, and another 79 million are pre-diabetic and likely to go on to develop the disease fully, with probably another seven million undiagnosed, says the American Diabetic Association.  These people all face serious health consequences, including increased risk of heart disease and strokes, nerve damage which can necessitate amputation, blindness and renal failure.  Diabetes itself can cause diabetic coma if blood sugar levels are not controlled carefully with diet and medication.

Professor Hu said, “There is convincing evidence that regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with increased risk of obesity and diabetes, and emerging evidence that these beverages increase the risk for heart disease.”  He said it was important for people to try to replace these drinks in their diet with unsweetened drinks such as water and tea or coffee with no added sugar.  Milk and natural fruit juices are healthier than sodas, but they do contain calories, which must be taken into account in the diet to avoid gaining weight.

Many people now drink sugar free sodas, which many people have come to prefer for their lighter flavor, and these do not increase your calorie intake, so do not contribute to weight gain.  Many delicious types of bottled water are on the market, as well as lower calorie spring water and fruit juice mixes, which have even less calories than pure fruit juice.  Herbal teas are another drink which is readily available, pleasant to drink and sugar free, and these have the added advantage of having little or no caffeine in them.

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