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Sugar Beverages: Drinks of Mass Destruction?

I sit there sometimes, watching how people guzzle down sugar-laden drinks with their food, and can’t help but remember how I used to be one of them. Many of these people are my friends (you know who you are!), they don’t seem to listen to me, maybe this article shall be an eye-opener.Just about everyone has a tap for drinking water at home, right? Well we had a coke tap. We had an inventory of coke in our basement and later in our garage, so much so that when my friends would visit I would show them the amount of bottles we had. They would always be gob smacked and in awe (the awe part was usually when we were younger), “…you’re so lucky…” they would utter.

I saw the light, or maybe a light, that clearly showed me the truth of what I used to imbibe carelessly.

The effects of such drinks is somehow overshadowed (conveniently). How? I really don’t know? Though I think it would be fair to surmise it has something to do with the Benjamins – if you know what i mean ;)

What if I told you that people can actually become addicted to sugar, similar to the addiction experienced by smokers, maybe that may offer some insight into the popularity of a billion dollar industry.

So how can you become addicted?

Simply put, sugar triggers the production of the brain’s natural opioids (a substance that has a morphine-like effect on the body, though not as strong as morphine or heroin), as a result of this, the body (or more specifically the brain) starts to get addicted to its own opioids.

Well we all know that there is a lot of sugar in these drinks. How much you ask? Well typically, a 330ml can contains approximately 36 grams of sugar – which is 7 ¼ tsp. Want to get high?

Drinking these types of drinks from a long-term perspective can have detrimental effects on one’s health. When sugary drinks are consumed, the pancreas has to churn out insulin to utilise the surge in sugar in the bloodstream and thereby bring the body back into homeostasis (i.e. the maintenance of internal stability). Over time, if the pancreas is put under constant pressure to meet the demands of a high-sugar diet, the person shall inevitably face insulin resistance and eventually diabetes. What’s that? Insulin resistance means that the body has to produce more insulin than usual to assimilate the sugar in the blood stream, hence the effects of insulin are not as optimal as they used to be and therefore a greater demand is placed on this organ.

There is also a good correlation between consuming large amounts of sugary drinks and obesity. There are numerous studies done on this relationship. Too much sugar that is not utilized by the muscles and livers gets deposited into adipose tissue (i.e. as fat). The body’s ability to produce fat cells is limitless.

Lets talk about the well-known addictive substance called caffeine. Don’t pretend you haven’t heard of it! Caffeine is classed as a drug because it stimulates the central nervous system (CNS). Most can readily identify the short-term benefits they experience with caffeine intake – being more mentally alert, losing the “fatigue feeling”, mood elevation and helping with a mild asthma attack (caffeine is part of the same family of drugs used for asthma medication).

However, few know the negative effects, some of which are: headaches, disrupting the sleep pattern, dizziness, jitters and many more. These effects are not experience by everyone, but more so by those who consume it on a regular basis (e.g. daily).

Now if you withdraw abruptly from consuming caffeine, you are almost likely to experience some withdrawal symptoms, such as severe headaches, temporary depression, irritability and aching muscles.

Caffeine can also cause you to urinate more (aka as a diuretic), hence it can have a mild dehydrating effect. Calcium and potassium loss can result due to a high caffeine intake, this is so the body can combat the acidic nature of caffeine by neutralising it with alkalising minerals (and therefore attempting to bring the body back into homeostasis), this similar acidic reaction can also occur with phosphoric acid – usually found in fizzy drinks.

I can hear someone saying that they drink caffeine-free and sugar-free beverages. Well done in regards to the caffeine-free part, though the latter is not a great substitute and solution to sugar. Okay, so they don’t put sugar in the drink, however they put something just as bad, if not worse. Yep, you guessed it, artificial sweeteners.

This really is opening a Pandora’s box! These sweeteners (e.g. aspartame, acesulfame potassium, sucralose – yes, even sucralose etc.) cause very serious problems in the short and long term. It is too in-depth and beyond the scope of this article to mention and discuss all of the negative effects and consequences, though some are mentioned for your benefit: headaches, dizziness, seizures, nausea, numbness, muscle spasms, weight gain, rashes, depression, fatigue, irritability, insomnia, vision problems, hearing loss, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, loss of taste, tinnitus, memory loss and joint pain. Though some of these seem extreme, they have occurred and reoccurrence is a possibility.

Did you know that even with artificial sweeteners you stimulate an insulin surge. This is because the brain cannot differentiate between artificial and natural, therefore if you consume artificial sweeteners your body will release insulin and expect there to be a load of carbohydrates to deal with, that’s why the caffeine is there to give you a temporary boost. The brain feels cheated and as a result you feel a craving for carbohydrates. In one study, a group was given drinks containing artificial sweeteners (AS) and another group given artificial sweetener-free drinks (SF). The AS group consumer 3 times as many calories as the SF group!

So you’re wondering how you can rid yourself of this habit?

Well you could….

Substitute refined grains (e.g. white rice, white bread etc.) with whole grain varieties, this will keep you satiated for longer and regulate blood sugar.

After this transition, it is much easier to slowly wean yourself off the sugar drinks! If you were to just instantaneously stop yourself from consuming sugar, you would surely feel negative effects of withdrawal. Also, sugar cravings are commonly associated with the following deficiencies: chromium (broccoli, cheese, chicken), phosphorous (chicken, fish, eggs, nuts, legumes), sulphur (onions, broccoli – and all cruciferous vegetables), carbon (fruit), tryptophan (lamb, spinach, liver).

Simply put….avoid these drinks!

 

References available on request.


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25 Responses to Sugar Beverages: Drinks of Mass Destruction?
  1. kulsum (i wanabehealthy)
    September 5, 2007 | 6:12 am

    Another fantastic article! I certainly won’t hesitate to share this article .. I had no idea of some of these effects; in particular the effects of artificial sweeteners! I quit soft drinks almost a two to three years ago – but have the odd craving here and there .. knowing what I know now – I really have no excuse; even for the odd craving .. many thanks!

  2. kulsum (i wanabehealthy)
    September 6, 2007 | 4:39 am

    Hi … I have a question .. Is tea & coffee not so great too? As your article mentions “caffeine” causing many negative effects? Being a Londoner – we love our cuppa at the end of a long hard day (and several during the day too)! ;)

    Obviously there are alternatives – like herbal teas etc. But then what about coffee? & the so called “decaffeinated” coffee that we so readily now find in cafes?? Hope you can provide some useful info on this .. ta …

  3. admin
    September 6, 2007 | 5:42 am

    Green and Red (aka Rooibos) tea are very good for you, the former containing caffeine (naturally) where as the latter contains none.

    The benefits of green tea far outweigh the caffeine it contains, it is also naturally present in the tea as opposed to the drinks mentioned in this article that have them fortified.

    Decaffeinated coffee: Increases the bad cholesterol (i.e. LDL) increases your risk of rheumatoid arthritis as well as various other problems.

  4. kulsum (i wanabehealthy)
    September 6, 2007 | 6:46 am

    excellent stuff – thank you :)

  5. Mahmud
    September 8, 2007 | 2:21 am

    Good stuff.
    I have read many research articles which have detailed consequences of “artificial sweetners” and in particular aspartame and how especially for women it can even damage their womb and reproductive organs. There are some more dubious articles which say that “aspartame” was created by a pharamceutical firm in America which is partly owned by Donald Rumsfield. The drug allegedly would not have passed health tests but due to his personal influence he passed it through the official channels without being checked fully. And the fact that the majority of “zero sugar” drinks use “aspartame” as an alternative makes it a highly profitable investment – but no one would want to earn billions of dollar at the expense of a fellow being’s health!

  6. admin
    September 8, 2007 | 6:51 am

    Mahmud,

    Thanks for the input.

    I have read the same information, especially the part about Donald Rumsfield’s influence.

  7. FitBuff
    September 10, 2007 | 1:45 pm

    Hey Sohail!

    Thanks for another great article. We’ve included it in our Fourteenth Edition of the Total Mind and Body Fitness Carnival.

    Please click on the following links to Digg and/or Stumble the post to bring even more readers to see your article:

    Digg It!

    Stumble It!

    I’ve already Dugg and Stumbled all of the submissions individually, so please return the favor above.

  8. [...] presents Sugar Beverages: Drinks of Mass Destruction? posted at The [...]

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    October 2, 2007 | 10:21 pm

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  11. Briana Ramirez
    October 25, 2007 | 6:41 pm

    This article is great! I am completely against consuming anything that is artificially sweetened. I personally consume very little sugar and greatly believe in drinking natural herb teas. It is true that by eating whole wheat grains many of your bad cravings disappear after a while. Especially since I live in California people here drink Starbucks like crazy!!! ahaha This is great information since I am in High school and currently doing my senior project on Food and Nutrition.

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  13. Amatullah
    December 31, 2007 | 5:51 pm

    im new to your site and i really injoy reading your articles as it encourage’s me to implement a healthier lifestyle for me and my family.I have started by cutting out the biscuits,cakes etc for me and my children.I buy my children dryed fruits for their sweet tooth cravings. We eat alot of fruit and veg and we have no fizzy drinks. I am slowly giving up on coffee and because i am new to this healtheir way of thinking and eating i would really appreciate an article with a list of foods that i should keep away from aswell as the recommended foods.
    Thank you.

  14. admin
    January 1, 2008 | 5:04 am

    Amatullah,

    Thank you for your kind comments, they give the makers of this site more motivation to continue working hard.

    To give a list of foods to keep away from is somewhat difficult, if not impossible.

    Remember, moderation is key to everything.

    Though I can positively tell you to stay away from trans fatty acids (aka hydrogenated oils) and just about everything that has been extremely processed.

    Always opt for the healthier choice, for example, brown bread instead of white bread, brown rice instead white rice, honey instead of sugar etc.

    If you’re not sure about a particular food or foods, then please don’t hesitate to email me and i’ll be more than happy to advise you.

    Hope that helps.

    Take care.

  15. Amatullah
    January 3, 2008 | 5:51 pm

    Thank you for your reply and only after i had sent my last email, i realised you would find it difficult to give me a list of foods that i must stay away from sorry about that. I really get confused because first i hear something is a healthier option, then i hear it is even worse and i must stay away from these foods because they add aspartame etc. I dont want to write a story with my examples but im sure you know what i mean. Anyway i now feel reasured i can ask you, so please can you tell me what oil is better to cook with as i always cook with olive oil but i was told not to fry with it as it burns. what ever that means, as i was never explained why just that it isnt suitable for frying so i use corn oil to fry food and olive oil to cook all other meals.
    Thank you.

  16. admin
    January 5, 2008 | 8:48 am

    Amatullah,

    I always get asked this question about oils, so you’re going to get a good answer.

    Olive oil is a very good cooking oil, even for frying. Though, I am not an advocate of frying nor do I promote or recommend it. I myself cook all my foods in olive oil, though I do not consume deep fried foods.

    When frying with oils (i.e. at a very high temperature), some are quite volatile and subject to hydrogenation – the actual structure of the bonds in the oil change (e.g. sunflower oil), this hyrdogenation results in the creation of trans fatty acids which are very hazardous to ones health (so hazardous, that the FDA do not even recommend a minimum amount to consume, they say just stay away from it).

    Olive oil (aka pomace oil) is high in monounsaturated oils and therefore more resistant to hydrogenation than other oils. Studies have shown oxidation and hydrogenation occurs to a lesser degree in olive oil than in other oils. But in any case, the amount of hydrogenation is miniscule and no home cook would ever experience this problem, unless they were to constantly reuse and reheat the oil at very high temperatures.

    If one really wants to deep fry food, then coconut oil is very resilient to hydrogenation and so is butter, though high in saturated fats.

    My advice, avoid deep frying.

    Hope that helps.

    Amatullah, I was wondering if you could give me some input: what topics would you like to read about on this blog? (that question goes to all the readers)

    Thanks.

  17. Amatullah
    January 5, 2008 | 6:18 pm

    Thanks for your reply and one purticular topic that i am most interested in is losing weight as most people especially women keeping fit is a must. I once again hear different ways which are a success in losing a few unwanted pounds.

    I have always heard that one must stay away from fatty foods and eat a balanced meal three times a day and of course no eating at night. But i have now read that you should actually eat five times a day small meals and every meal must have a portion of protien and vegetables. please tell me i dont have to eat five times a day and that this is another meth cause i dont know where i gonna find the time to eat five times a day however small the portion.

    And please can you write something on deodorant, i was told it is harmful to use. Is this true and if it is why is it harmful and what will one use as an alternative?

    Thanks.

  18. admin
    January 6, 2008 | 2:47 am

    Amatullah,

    Losing weight is somewhat of a “trial and improvement” process.

    Many have benefited from eating five small meals a day as this regulates one’s insulin and helps in avoiding to put on excess fat (though it is important to note what one eats is imperative for this method to be of benefit – eating McDonalds five times a day will not quite work.)

    You don’t necessarily have to eat five times a day. You could have three good meals and in between them have a snack (e.g. fruit). The five times a day “thing” is more of an opportunity for people to graze as opposed to gorge themselves with excess food at one sitting.

    Eating protein and vegetables with each meal is an excellent idea. Though don’t over do it with the protein and remember you need starchy carbohydrates as well in your diet (e.g. brown rice, brown wraps/bread, beans, quinoa etc.)

    When people say “stay away from fatty foods”, what they mean is stuff like biscuits, sweets etc. We all need fatty foods in our diet, but of course healthy fatty foods (containing the Omega acids), such as wild Alaskan salmon and various other fish, nuts (unroasted and unsalted), olive oil etc.

    Remember variation and moderation.

    I hope you are exercising too, for eating healthily combined with dieting is a killer combo!

  19. [...] soft drink sweetened with 100% [...]

  20. Zrii
    November 3, 2008 | 3:49 pm

    its crazy how bad pop is for you, i used to drink it alot but i stopped drinking it for a week and felt better

  21. Insulin: The Fat Hormone
    January 22, 2009 | 6:36 pm

    Sugar is a major problem in our society. People get hung up on low fat stuff but they should really be more concerned about how much sugar they eat. So many times people will complain that they’re on a low fat diet and still fat. Next time you buy that low/non fat product take a look at how much sugar is in it.

  22. the health blogger
    January 23, 2009 | 3:45 pm

    well said!

  23. figus
    February 25, 2009 | 7:55 pm

    Ref admin’s comments ‘Olive Oil a.k.a.Pomace oil.
    Yes you can find Olive Pomace Oil but my understanding is that it is the highly refined
    (heat processed) product from the olive kernal and pulp after the varius other grades have been extracted;hence it’s low price. Personally I do not use it.I would recommend using a good supermarket ‘virgin’ or “extra virgin” grade for everything.High priced extra virgin oils should be avoided if considering only nutrition.There has to be some other reason for lashing out on these very good products.

  24. Ben
    July 9, 2010 | 3:13 pm

    My brother and aunt are fat because of drinking cola. It’s very noticeable. I heard many people lost weight just when stopped drinking cola.

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