The intake of sugar complicates the body's mission to manage itself. Sugar in the bloodstream disrupts hormone function and, when consumed to excess, sugar is stored in the body as fat. Weight gain—especially increased abdominal fat—is a known risk factor of serious health conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Artificial sweeteners like aspartame and saccharin are no better. They have been linked to a horde of health conditions, too, ranging from headaches to stroke.
In the United States, soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages are leading sources of the daily sugar consumption that is so closely linked to the nation's growing health problem.
Consuming one 12-ounce soda a day can significantly increase men's risk of coronary heart disease.
According to a study published earlier this year, men who drank the most soda "had a 20 percent higher relative risk of coronary heart disease." Regardless of age, exercise and smoking habits, body mass index, alcohol consumption and family history of heart disease, frequent consumption of soda was directly associated with heart attack risk in men.
David S. Ludwig, M.D., Ph.D. of Children's Hospital Boston, said "Sugar in all its forms may be the single most important dietary cause of obesity and heart disease in the American diet today." By replacing sugar-loaded regular soda with naturally sweetened alternatives, the risk and occurrence of these conditions can be greatly reduced.
Diet sodas do not provide a safe alternative.
Drinking one diet soda a day vastly increases a person's risk of stroke, heart attack and death by vascular diseases like peripheral artery disease and aneurysm. By consuming two diet soft drinks daily, a person's waistline will grow by about 500 percent more than someone who does not drink diet soda.
According to research, fatty tissue cells have receptor for sweetness. This suggests that, even without calories, "artificial sweeteners could cause weight gain by directly stimulating the development of new fat cells."
Dr. Ludwig avoids artificial sweeteners, and recommends them "only as a transitional aid to wean people off sugary beverages."
In nature, sweet foods are packed with calories, so the brain naturally prepares its metabolism to burn those calories. However, research has shown that when the sweetness is present, but calories are not, metabolism slows to a crawl. The brain is then tricked in to eating more, and because metabolism has slowed, more calories are then stored as fat.
No Sugar Added
Avoid sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages with the following options.
Summer limeade. This drink is made from water, lime juice and a bit of apple cider vinegar. Known as the ultimate health tonic, apple cider vinegar provides a spark of energy while also cleansing and healing the body.
Crème de Menthe. Whether served hot or cold, this beverage will satisfy your sweet cravings without a single hint of sugar. It can be served as a peppermint hot chocolate or as a smoothie.
Looking for more healthy nutrition ideas?
Maximized Living wellness doctors are certified in the 5 Essentials, including Maximized Quality Nutrition. To get more information on healthy food tips sugar-free recipes, contact your Dr. Nick Barnes at www.212DegreesofWellness.com.