There has been a lot of research lately on sugary drinks as well as campaigns for people to stop drinking them for a variety of health reasons. In the UK there has been promises from the government that they will impose a sugar tax on soft drinks that contain added sugar as a recognition that they are contributing to obesity.
Research done in Sweden, reported in The Guardian, has shown that if you drink more than two 200ml sugary or artificially sweetened drinks increases the chance of developing type 2 diabetes by more than half. The interesting thing here being that it is not just restricted the sugar sweetened drinks but also artificially sweetened ones as well. In people who has at least five drinks a day they has a ten times greater risk of developing type two diabetes.
There was also some evidence to show that soft drinks increased the risk of latent autoimmune diabetes which has characteristics of both type one and type two diabetes and is something which has not been seen before. The researchers feel that the increase in risk could be due to the insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism changes caused by the exposure to the sweetness in the drinks and they are now looking at things that could be used to counteract these things.
This was obviously just a single study but they did look at almost 3,000 people. However, it is hard to say that it could be the drinks alone that caused the problems. People who consume soft drinks, particularly those that consume them frequently may have other similar factors within their diet that could lead to an increased risk as well. They may have more sweet foods generally, they may not eat a varied, nutrient rich diet, they may not exercise as much, they may drink more alcohol. It is difficult to single out one specific thing and say that is the cause when out lifestyles and diets are all so varied.
However, it can be wise to do what we can to avoid unnecessary foods, such as those that are high in unhealthy products such as sugar and low in nutrients. This means having a diet more rich in fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts, seeds, beans, oily fish and small amounts of meat and dairy and reducing the sweets, puddings, biscuits, cakes, fatty sauces and sweet drinks.
Many people know that this is a healthy diet, but want an alternative that is easier to stick to. The problem with healthier foods as that they do not always seem as nice as unhealthy things. We may have happy memories associated with unhealthy foods, be genetically programmed to eat more fatty and sugary foods and we may even find that once we start eating sugar, we just find it hard to stop again. It can be nice to believe that there is a magic fix that will enable us to have everything we enjoy and want to eat without worrying about what is in the food and how much of it we are eating but there isn’t. However many chia seeds we sprinkle on our cereal, goji berries we nibble on or flaxseeds we put in our smoothies, unless we change our whole lifestyle we will not see a significant change. This is echoed by an interesting viewpoint form a nutritionist in The Guardian. She also points out that most people tell her they want to be healthier when she knows that what they want is a better body and they hope that eating more healthily will be the answer. It could be the answer, but may not be as it depends on how their body reacts to the new food, what they are eating already and whether they exercise or not.
Even if you are confused by diets, there are none that encourage the consumption of sugary drinks. A calorie controlled diet may allow you to eat and drink anything, but if you substitute the soft drinks with water then you will have less calories. Low carb diets certainly do not encourage the consumption of sugary drinks and although low fat diets would allow it, they do not encourage it. This seems to imply that however confused you may be by the different diets around, the fact that there are none that encourage the consumption of sugary drinks means that they must be bad for us!
It can be a good idea to think of things that you can have to replace them, particularly if you drink them regularly. Obviously water is the best option as it is calorie free with no additives that could potentially cause any problems. However, some people find that water is too bland to drink all of the time. Adding a splash of fruit juice, such as a squeeze of lemon or lime can make it more interesting and add some sweetness without it being overly sugary or artificial. It will take some getting used to. Some people choose to have fruit juice but this will still contain a lot of sugar although they are natural sugars and they are also acidic which is not good for teeth. Watering it down could help with this, and you could water it down more and more until you get used just having a splash or even none at all. Another option could be a hot beverage. Although tea and coffee can stain the teeth, they do not cause dental or health problems unless sugar is added. Milk will add calories to the diet, but is good for the teeth and low fat varieties can be used which are lower in calories. If you prefer a fruity flavour then you can get fruity teabags which are very much less sweet than soft drinks. They will take some getting used to but could be used as a healthier alternative. If you like a cold drink, you can make up the tea and then refrigerate it and consume it cold.
So evidence shows that it is healthier for us to avoid the sweet drinks as much as we can and switch to alternatives such as water if we want to avoid diabetes