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A Closer Look at Sugar-Sweetened Drinks – The Bitter Truth
It’s no secret that soda and other sugary drinks contain large amounts of sugar that can lead to tooth decay and weight gain. What some may not know is that many studies show that sugary drinks are more dangerous than causing cavities or making your clothes fit. Excessive consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages can have a negative, negative effect on overall health. Sugary drinks include regular soda, fruit drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks and sugary water. Sugary drinks have been linked to obesity, bone fractures and osteoporosis, kidney problems, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The following information describes health problems that have been linked to the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and provides tips for healthy living.
Children are the biggest consumers of sugary drinks, according to the US Department of Agriculture, and they drink at surprisingly high rates. A recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey revealed the following facts about the consumption of sugary drinks by children and adolescents and the results are not good:
The consumption of sugary drinks in the US has increased over the past 30 years among children and adults.
Teenagers and young adults drink more sugary drinks than other age groups.
Males consume more sugary drinks than females. Among boys aged 2-19, 70% consume sugary drinks on any given day.
A full third of teenage boys drink at least three cans of soda a day.
The consumption of sugary drinks, especially among young children and adolescents is a major problem in our country. Sugary drinks are an increasing part of the diets of children and adolescents. Just a 12-ounce can of soda contains anywhere from 31 to 46 grams of sugar depending on the type of soda. 46 grams of sugar equals eleven teaspoons of sugar! The following are some of the negative health effects associated with long-term consumption of sugar-laden drinks:
Reduced Bone Density and Bone Fractures in Children
Osteoporosis, or bone loss, is often thought of as a geriatric condition. But this disease may have its roots in puberty as bone mass reaches a peak. Since your bones reach their peak mass and strength during your 20s, the more bone mineral density (BMD) you build at a young age, the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis later in life. Reducing the intake of milk and excessive consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages can reduce bone density and increase the risk of developing osteoporosis later in life. Animal studies also show that phosphorus, a common ingredient in soda, can deplete calcium from bones.
In addition, research has found that drinking soft drinks is associated with an increased risk of bone fractures in school-age girls. In one of the studies, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, researchers found that 14-year-old girls who drank the most cola were 3.6 times more likely to have broken bones than those who drank the least.
Sugary drinks are a major source of added sugar in children’s daily diets. Consuming these drinks increases calorie intake – a factor that can contribute to obesity among youth across the country. Between 1977 and 2001 the daily calorie consumption of Americans increased by 250-300 calories, almost half of which (43%) came from sugary drinks alone. Obesity is now the most common medical condition in childhood. Almost 1 in 3 children are at risk of obesity. The problems of obesity include ihigh cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and many other health and social problems.
Tooth Enamel Erosion and Stomach Indigestion
Excessive consumption of sugar carbonated drinks increases the risk of dental problems, especially in children. The phosphoric acid in carbonated soda can interfere with calcium absorption and weaken teeth. The acid wears away the enamel of the teeth, leaving them brittle. Once the enamel is broken, bacteria can invade and cause decay. The acids in soda are known to aggravate gastroesophageal reflux disease and ulcers. Phosphoric acid from these drinks neutralizes the hydrochloric acid in your stomach and destroys the body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients such as iron, calcium and magnesium. Impaired bowel function can lead to indigestion, constipation and increased symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and other gastrointestinal problems.
The high level of phosphoric acid in sodas has been known to change the urine in a way that promotes the formation of kidney stones and other kidney problems.
Recent research from the Harvard School of Public Health finds evidence of a link between sugary drink consumption and heart disease. The study found that those who drank more than two sugary drinks each day had a nearly 40% higher risk of heart disease than regular sugary drinkers. Drinking more than one soft drink per day is associated with an increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of symptoms such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high triglycerides and low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or “good cholesterol”.
How to break your habit and what to drink instead of sugary drinks
The best way to counteract the negative effects of sugary drinks is to eliminate sugary drinks from your diet. Water, of course, is the drink of choice. But for some, plain water is too easy and kicking the habit overnight may be a no-brainer. Start by reducing the number of sugary drinks you have per day until you eliminate them completely.
Try some of the following drinks for a tasty alternative:
Add slices of your favorite fruits and vegetables – lemons, oranges, cucumber, mint, or limes to a pitcher of ice cold water for a refreshing and delicious drink.
Add 100% fruit juice to sodium-free seltzer water – mix one part 100% cranberry or pomegranate juice with three parts seltzer.
Add a few slices of lime or lemon to the tonic water.
Drink iced herbal tea or green tea – green tea is naturally high in antioxidants. If you like your tea sweet, add a little honey.
Skimmed milk: Rich milk with lots of calcium.
Create the health you deserve by nourishing your body with healthy foods and eliminating sugary drinks from your diet. Creating a healthy lifestyle is more than just eating and drinking right, however. It is about healing the whole person – mind, body, spirit and energy. Create a healthy and balanced mind and body through the many wellness therapies offered at Fairfield County Integrative Family Medicine and Healing Therapy: yoga, massage, reiki/healing therapy, acupuncture, guided imagery, reflexology and manual therapy lymphatic drainage. We believe in giving our patients the opportunity to experience healing in any one of our holistic therapies, designed to heal and soothe the body, spirit and mind.
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