America’s love affair with their beloved soda-pop may be a fatal attraction. In fact, a multiple studies published by the Journal of Nutrition states that an alarming percentage of our daily calorie intake comes from sugary drinks.
According to the study, which was published in Global Public Health, countries that use HFCS in their food supply had a 20 percent higher prevalence of diabetes than countries that did not use it. The analysis also revealed that the HFCS association with the “significantly increased prevalence of diabetes” occurred independent of total sugar intake and obesity levels. Countries with higher use of HFCS had an average prevalence of Type 2 diabetes of 8 percent compared to 6.7 percent in countries not using HFCS.
The article proposed that this link is probably driven by higher amounts of fructose in foods and beverages made with HFCS. Fructose and glucose are both found in ordinary sugar (sucrose) in equal amounts, but HFCS has a greater proportion of fructose. The higher fructose content makes HFCS sweeter and provides processed foods with greater stability and better appearance because of the more consistent browning color when foods made with higher fructose are baked.
The calories aren’t even the scariest part. The study also found an increased risk of stroke in people who consumed more than one soda per day. These findings are not surprising, as the evidence continues to pour in: added sugar (like that found in soda), contributes to diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and high cholesterol.
Why Soda is Empty Calories
An average 12 oz. can of soda has 150 empty calories. The term “empty calories” is quite fitting, since none of the calories provide the body with nutritional value. Most sodas today are sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), although there are some on the market that are sweetened with cane sugar hiding under the guise of being “healthier”.
Empty calories are likely a large contributor to the growing problem (no pun intended) of weight gain and obesity. Liquid calories do not satisfy hunger as effectively as calories consumed in solid food form. This means people often consume more total calories while still not satisfying their hunger.
Sugar By Any Other Name… Fructose vs. Glucose
It’s easy to be confused when talking about terms associated with sugar. Among these terms we find fructose, glucose, and high fructose corn syrup. Is one better than the other? Let’s break it down. Fructose and glucose are NOT metabolized by your body in the same way. Glucose is recognized by the body and utilizes it for energy – this is a good thing. However, while every cell in your body uses glucose, thereby burning up much of it, fructose is turned into free fatty acids (FFAs), VLDL (the damaging form of cholesterol), and triglycerides, which are stored in the body as fat. Let’s add another nail to the fructose coffin: fructose is hard on your liver. Because fructose is not received well by our bodies, the entire burden of metabolizing fructose falls on your liver, which creates a long list of waste products and toxins, including a large amount of uric acid. Uric acid is the leading culprit in high blood pressure and gout.
The Truth About High Fructose Corn Syrup in Soda
We’ve all heard the debates about high fructose corn syrup. Many food labels now proudly announce: “no high fructose corn syrup!” While that may sound great, the honest truth is that when it comes to fructose content, one is not that different from the other. So why is high-fructose corn syrup labeled as evil? In its concentrated form it has more fructose than regular corn syrup. It’s similar to a doughnut vs. a muffin, neither are good health options, but one might be slightly less unhealthy than the other – pick your poison.
Resolve to Avoid Soda Starting Today
So what’s the bottom line? All sweeteners contain fructose: white sugar, cane sugar, beet sugar, brown sugar – even maple syrup, honey and agave nectar. It’s all the same. The source is irrelevant; it’s the payload that matters and we are definitely overloading our bodies. Starting today, resolve to avoid soda. In fact, try to avoid added sugar altogether – sugar is toxic to the body. So what do you do if you hate drinking water? Is diet soda a better option? Stay tuned – both of those questions will be answered in upcoming blog posts. Need help getting started? At Atlas Drug and Nutrition we believe nutrition is the gateway to health. Our nutritionists are ready to work with you, creating a diet plan that will help you reach your health goals. Call us today!