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Skip the Soda

More Americans now drink sugar-sweetened sodas, sport drinks and fruit drinks daily.  Sugary beverages not only may raise the risk of becoming overweight, but may prompt the onset of chronic disease (such as type-2 diabetes), and may compromise a person’s healthspan – the length of time that we are able to live productively and independently.

Research suggests that drinking sodas, which contain high levels of phosphates, may accelerate the aging process. A team from the Harvard School of Dental Medicine (Massachusetts, USA), studied the effects of high phosphate levels in three groups of mice. The first group was missing a gene (klotho), which when absent, causes mice to have toxic levels of phosphate in their bodies. These mice lived for 8 to 15 weeks. The second group was missing the klotho gene and a second gene (NaPi2a), which when absent at the same time, substantially lowered the amount of phosphate in their bodies. These mice lived to 20 weeks. The third group, like the second group, was missing both the klotho and NaPi2a genes, but was also fed a high-phosphate diet. Like the mice in the first group, all of the mice in the third group died by 15 weeks. Demonstrating that phosphate has toxic effects in mice, the findings raise a stark possibility that the compound may have a similar effect in humans.

University of California/San Francisco (UCSF; California, USA)  researchers utilized the Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) Policy Model, a computerized model of the national population age 35 years and older, drawing on data from major epidemiological studies, including the Framingham Heart Study, The Nurses Health Study and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).  The team determined that the increased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages between 1990 and 2000 contributed to 130,000 new cases of diabetes, 14,000 new cases of coronary heart disease, and 50,000 additional life-years burdened by coronary heart disease over the past decade.  Further, the team estimates that the additional disease caused by the drinks has increased coronary heart disease healthcare costs by US$ 300 to 550 million between 2000-2010. They also conclude that over the last decade, at least 6,000 excess deaths from any cause and 21,000 life-years lost can be attributed to the increase in sugar-sweetened drinks.

Boston University (Massachusetts, USA) researchers conducted a progressive follow-up study, commencing in 1995, on 59,000 African American women, ages 21 to 69 years.  The team found that the daily consumption of two sugar-sweetened soft drinks raised the risk of type-2 diabetes by 24%, and the consumption of two fruit drinks a day increased the disease risk by 33%. 

A team from the Harvard School of Public Health (Massachusetts, USA USA) completed a meta-analysis that pooled 11 studies, involving over 300,000 subjects, examining the association between sugar-sweetened beverages and Type-2 diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome.   The researchers found that drinking one to two sugary drinks per day increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 26% and the risk of metabolic syndrome by 20%, as compared with those who consumed less than one sugary drink per month.

Researchers from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine (Florida, USA) studied data collected on 2,564 participants enrolled in the Northern Manhattan Study (NOMAS), launched in 1993 to examine stroke incidence and risk factors in a multi-ethnic urban population. A total of 3,298 participants over 40 years old (average age 69) were enrolled and continue to be followed. Researchers asked subjects at the outset to report how much and what kind of soda they drank. Based on the data, they grouped participants into seven consumption categories: no soda (meaning less than one soda of any kind per month); moderate regular soda only (between one per month and six per week), daily regular soda (at least one per day); moderate diet soda only; daily diet soda only; and two groups of people who drink both types: moderate diet and any regular, and daily diet with any regular. During an average follow-up of 9.3 years, 559 vascular events occurred (including ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, which is caused by rupture of a weakened blood vessel).  The team fund that the subjects who drank diet soda every day had a 61% higher risk of ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke, as compared to those who reported no soda drinking.

The International Study of Macro/Micronutrients and Blood Pressure (INTERMAP) group analyzed consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks, sugars and diet beverages among 2,696 participants, ages 40  to 59 years, residing in eight areas of the United States and two areas of the United Kingdom. Participants reported what they ate and drank for four days, underwent two 24-hour urine collections and eight blood pressure readings, and responded to a detailed questionnaire on lifestyle, medical and social factors. For every extra sugar-sweetened beverage drunk per day, participants on average had significantly higher systolic blood pressure by 1.6 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure higher by 0.8 mm.  

Eliminate sugary beverages from your diet.   Opt instead for purified or distilled water, or – in limited amounts – tea and coffee.


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