According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, liquid sugar in sodas and energy drinks is the leading source of added sugar in the American diet, representing 36% of the added sugar we consume. Some studies show that drinking just one 12-oz can of soda per day can increase the risk of heart disease by nearly one-third while other studies show a 26% higher risk for developing Type 2 diabetes for people who drank one to two sugar sweetened beverages per day. To put it in simple terms, ingesting liquid sugar through sodas, energy drinks or sports drinks is a dangerous way to consume added sugar.
Liquid sugar is digested very differently than sugar that is ingested through the consumption of food, especially food that contains fiber. For example, when we eat an apple we can be ingesting as much as 18 grams of sugar, but the sugar is essentially “packaged” with fiber.
Because the sugar gets digested with the fiber, it takes our bodies a significantly longer time to process. This results in the apple’s sugar being released slowly into our bloodstream, giving us a sustained source of energy.
However, when ingesting sugary drinks, the process of converting sugar to blood sugar happens rapidly, delivering more sugar to the body’s vital organs than they can handle. Over time, this rapid process of conversion can overload the pancreas and liver. By simply avoiding drinks with excess amounts of sugar, we can prevent the onset of serious diseases like diabetes, heart disease and liver disease.
Luckily for us, there are many alternatives to sugary drinks that have an added benefit of being healthy. One healthier choice you can indulge in is to flavor your water naturally by adding slices of your favorite fruits and veggies - lemons, oranges, watermelon, cucumber, mint, or limes, which can add essential vitamins and a refreshing twist to your drink.
Another choice is to drink green tea which is known to have a plethora of great benefits ranging from improving your metabolism, to reducing the risk of several cancer types and heart disease. For those of you who enjoy wine, a glass of red wine as 4 ounces is recommended daily by the National Institute of Health as it has the benefit of lowering your risk for heart attacks, Alzheimer’s disease and even cancer.
Any way you look at it, reducing the amount of liquid sugar we ingest through sugary drinks is a positive change you can incorporate into your life which can help you reach your goal of weight loss or toning your muscles. You can reduce the risk of diabetes, obesity and heart disease drastically by changing out your daily sugary drink for healthier alternatives such as naturally flavored water, green tea or wine. With just a few changes to your drinking habits, you can improve your health, mood and quality of life so put down that soda and make the change.
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