I’ve been saying for years, that people need to relax on the fizzy drinks. The sweet drinks, too.
Yes, that includes juice.
And, for years, people have been coming aaaaat me about it. I mean, you would think I was threatening folks’ mamas out here.
But I get it. People are very attached to these drinks for any number of reasons—the sugar helps keep them awake from an otherwise boring day at a desk. The caffeine. The taste. The “aahhhh” feeling. I understand.
I also understand why, when you tell people to cut back, their first step is to instead switch over to diet sodapop.
This isn’t the answer. And I have a few reasons why.
1) The attachment to “sweet” is the problem, not necessarily the delivery method. It’s clear that consuming large quantities of sugar has its risks. It’s also clear that consuming large quantities of high fructose corn syrup, a favorite in sugary drinks, has its negatives, too. But the problem, here, isn’t merely the kind of sweet you’re consuming. The problem is that a constant supply of “sweet” in and of itself changes the level of sweet that you find tolerable.
When you drink something with sugar in it, regardless of the form it takes (be it “cane sugar,” “high fructose corn syrup,” or “apple juice concentrate”), it not only impacts your blood sugar levels, but it triggers a response in your brain that releases hormones that affect your mood. (Yes—cocaine, alcohol, and opioids have the same reaction.)
A constant stream of sugar at the same level eventually stops producing the same hormonal reaction in your brain, so you ultimately will slowly start to increase the amount you drink. Before long, you find yourself drinking way more than you were when you started and collecting health problems in the process (chief among them, high blood pressure and diabetes.)
Not only that, but an inability to say no to “sweet” spills over beyond drinks altogether. Drinking sugar in the form of sodapop, sugar in your salad dressing, sugar in your condiments, sugar in your bread, sugar in your peanut butter, sugar, sugar, sugar. Sugar in your smoothie, sugar in your sandwich spread, sugar, sugar, sugar. You increasingly find yourself wanting and eating sweeter foods. You have to be able to set boundaries. You have to be able to say no.
2) From the Washington Post:
Indeed, a new study shows an association between diet soda and both stroke and dementia, with people drinking diet soda daily being almost three times as likely to develop stroke and dementia as those who consumed it weekly or less.
“This included a higher risk of ischemic stroke, where blood vessels in the brain become obstructed and Alzheimer’s disease dementia, the most common form of dementia,” said Matthew Pase, a Boston University School of Medicine neurologist and the lead author of the study published in the journal Stroke.
They go on to discuss the limitations of the study, one of which being that the actual numbers of people developing these conditions were low—single digit percentage numbers—it’s worth noting they also acknowledge that the percentage of participants in the study who were white was also high, which means these are also likely to be people who have access to the kind of health care that can help preempt and prevent one’s health from getting so bad that they experience a stroke or dementia.
If you don’t have that kind of regular and consistent care, the risk could be far too great.
3) From the National Institute of Health:
“Drinking more than two sugary or artificially sweetened soft drinks per day greatly increases the risk of diabetes, research has shown,” The Guardian reports.
The research was a Swedish cohort study of sweetened drink consumption over the past year for people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. They also looked at people with an uncommon form of diabetes known as latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA) which shares features with type 1 and 2 diabetes.
Both groups were then compared with a diabetes-free control group.
Drinking more than two sweetened drinks per day was linked with being roughly twice as likely to have diabetes.
For type 2 diabetes the link was similar when separately analysing sugary and diet drinks. The link with LADA was a little weaker and did not stand up to statistical significance when separately analysing sugary and artificially-sweetened drinks.
However, this study cannot prove that sweetened drinks alone have directly caused these conditions. Other unhealthy lifestyle factors like smoking and poor diet in general were also linked with the two forms of diabetes. [source]
This can’t prove a direct link—most studies can’t—but it must be pointed out that the reason why the sweetened drink consumption is correlated to the condition [caused in part by sweetened drink consumption] is because people who have an intensified reaction to “sweet” and find themselves needing more and more of it ultimately do consume a larger amount of sugar than those who actively resist sodapop, and that higher sugar consumption rate has consequences.
So, trust me. There are lots of reasons to let go of the sweet stuff. Learn how to set boundaries for yourself. “Sweet” doesn’t need to be something you experience all day every day… or even every day at all. Your body (and your brain!) depend on it.