Are You Drowning in Your Soda Sorrows?
Colby Johnson, an 8 year old kid, sits hunched over next to a soda at the kitchen bar staring blankly at the TV screen showing Star Wars Season 4: Battle Lines. He has a glazed look on his face.
He goes to drink his Root Beer, but then he realizes it is empty. He screams over at his mom, “Give me anotha!”
Colby’s mom walks over to him a bit concerned about his growing temper and the dazed look on his face. She concerningly says, “Honey I think you have had enough.”
Colby snaps back, “I’ll tell you when I’ve had enough!”
This seems like a story out of late night bar scene at the local tavern. You wouldn’t expect this coming from an 8 year old on a Saturday afternoon at the local Johnson household.
A drunken friend making a fool of themselves, alcoholics anonymous, a beer belly, making a stupid decision behind the wheel, or alcoholic liver disease; these are all thoughts we associate with alcohol. We would never associate sugar with this right?
Well you may need to think again.
Sugar, while not as mind-altering as alcohol, definitely comes with it’s dirty laundry that is surprisingly close to alcohol. This can not only impact the health of your children and family members, but very well could stop those mid-day crashes, and help get rid of that fat on the stomach, hips and butt.
Trimming back on the soda could also mean a longer life and stopping what may be a hidden addiction you don’t even know you are trapped in.
So let’s see really what sugar does to our body and how it might be more prevalent than you think. We will also give you some “liquid options” for you and your family so there are less 8 year old tantrums
How Much Soda Do We Consume?
According to the CDC, 51% of Americans say they drink alcohol. 15,183 people died of alcoholic liver disease in 2009 and nearly 25,000 died from alcohol-induced deaths that have nothing to do with accidents or homicides.
The CDC also says that 79,000 deaths are attributed to excessive alcohol use and it is the third highest “lifestyle-related” cause of death. Each person could be losing on average 30 years of their existence. Alcohol consumption is a rough story.
Sugar isn’t that far behind. Half of Americans drink soda as well. According to the USDA, 36% of the added sugars to our diet are coming from sodas, energy drinks, and sport drinks. That is more than any other source in which we receive added sugar.
Robert Lustig, an MD at UCSF, mentions that over the past 20 years our soft drink consumption has increased 41% over the past 20 years and there is a 35% increase in fruit drinks during the same time period. This is where a major increase of our calories have come from as an American society. Using his same calculations if you drink one can of soda a day that can lead to nearly 15 pounds of fat put on each year just from sugar beverages.
And corporations have fed our thirst. In 1955 a standard coke bottle was 10 oz. and by forty years later the standard size was 20 oz. You will notice how sneaky these producers are by reading the label. There are 2.5 servings out of a 20 oz. drink.
Who is drinking that? A mouse?
Let’s be honest though, no one does that. As many of you know, today we have been introduced to the “Big Gulp” with monster sizes of 44 and 60 oz. In college, I remember going every night to get a Big Gulp at 7-11 filled with orange Gatorade. I thought since it was Gatorade that it must be healthy. That is the logic of youth I guess. I am surprised I am not dead.
How many of you can throw one of those bad boys down within an hour without thinking about it? We have trained our bodies (or beaten it down) to handle large consumptions of these terrible drinks.
The consumption has been ridiculous and it looks like it is accelerating out of control and yes possibly even more than alcohol.
Keeping You Coming Back For More
As many of you know alcohol can be a very addictive substance. Alcoholics Anonymous has over 2 million worldwide members. Alcohol spikes insulin levels making it difficult for other hormones to help your body know you are full. Some of these hormones include leptin and PYY.
Not only does your body not know when to stop, but it craves more as well. As soon as alcohol hits your tongue, it automatically triggers increased levels of blood that runs to certain regions of your brain. In fact, even thinking about alcohol can start the release of insulin levels shooting up.
Dopamine, which is a chemical produced in the brain, is then released telling you that alcohol consumption is a very good thing. Dopamine creates a feeling of euphoria. As you drink more, that feeling diminishes. You end up needing more alcohol to feed the fix.
This is the exact same thing that happens with sugar causing soda health risks. It also spikes insulin, inhibits satiating hormones, and triggers those endorphins in the brain craving for more and more. This is exactly why that consumption in carbs, namely sugary drinks, has been growing astronomical in the past 50 years.
It gets worse because sugar moves through your body faster when it is in the form of a liquid. This shoots up the insulin levels even further and causes havoc on your body.
Soda and power drink creators have one more secret up their sleeve and that is salt. In an average can of Coke there is 55 mg of sodium. It is like drinking a pizza.
As you drink more soda, you drink more salt. All that does is make you thirstier. It becomes a vicious cycle where your thirst is never quenched. But in order to hide that salty taste, it has to be overpowered by enough sugar so you can’t tell the salt is in there. With each soda can all your body can do is plead for more, but yet never being satiated. This leads to more soda health problems.
Alcohol and Sugar: Brothers from Another Mother
Fructose (or the chemically altered high fructose corn syrup that is in so much of our food) has a very similar chemical makeup as ethanol. I am not talking about the fuel, but the ethanol which is fermented and found in alcohol.
How is it fermented? Through sugar.
Not only are they chemically similar, but they also highly impact the body in negative ways. As I mention both can flood our livers. This can cause insulin sensitivity and even poisoning by flooding the liver. When sugar attacks the liver like this it is called “Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease” being it is so similar to how alcohol converts to glucose and wreaks havoc on your liver. This is a problem for diet soda as well causing diet soda health risks as well.
Both alcohol and sugar not only look and act the same, but they also cause very similar problems with our bodies. Both spike insulin levels causing our bodies to retain more fat and increase the size of our fat cells.
David Ludwig, who works at the Children’s Hospital in Boston, performed a study that showed as children increased their sugary drink consumption over a 19 month period the child would be 60% more likely to be obese. By both of these chemicals promoting obesity, they open gateways to metabolic syndrome. As we mentioned before with sugar, metabolic syndrome comes with insulin sensitivity, obesity, diabetes, low HDL, high small, dense LDL, and hypertension. The long term results are those major diseases that kill us like cardiovascular disease, cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and more.
Time to be a Debbie Downer: juices, sugar packets, and sports drinks are also highly loaded with sugar and have issues like the soda health effects we have talked about. Yes this even includes orange juice or any fruit juice. Even though they have nutrients like calcium or vitamin C, the negative outweighs the positive. You can easily get all the nutrients you need from solid foods like fruits, vegetables, and animal protein. In fact, you can get it with fiber so your body regulates any sugar coming in as well.
Sports drinks are filled with high fructose corn syrup that replenishes glycogen levels faster for faster recovery. This may make sense for a long distance runner or elite athletes that are mesomorphs, but it doesn’t for your standard Joe who gets the 60 oz. down at the 7-11 while hitting on chicks.
The interesting thing is that the original Gatorade drink was a rougher taste that didn’t have the sugar it has in it today. After Pepsi bought the product in 1992 they added high fructose corn syrup to help Gatorade appeal to the masses.
If it Looks Like a Duck…
So alcohol and sugar are very similar in design and results. They mess with your body, maybe more than we even know. Now I am not going to say we go back to prohibition with Pepsi and Coca-Cola products. If people want it, they will get it.
Yes sugar doesn’t turn most of us drunk behind the wheel, but if it is this closely related…do you want your kids drinking it? I know you won’t give your kid a beer. If sugar is similar, would you be so quick to give your kid a Mountain Dew or even orange juice?
I don’t want to sound like a sugar-Nazi and I know you aren’t going to be perfect with this, but the less you have the healthier and happier you are going to be. The same goes for your family.
So if you care about your life, want to stay thin, fit into clothes, feel confident, avoid depression, inspire others, go on more hot dates, and live longer to see your kids grow up…then you probably want to drink less of this stuff. Up to you, but it makes a lot of sense to me. (Gosh I am so sarcastic sometimes. Sorry.)
So we talked briefly about how unhealthy alcohol can be. We will address that more in the next post along with some other substances.