You all know it by heart – too much soda is bad for health. But just how much is too much? (Photo: iStock)
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Soda and Heart Disease – How Much Is Too Much?

Summer is here but the next time you are thirsty and pop into a supermarket to buy a drink, choose wisely.

With the fast food culture gaining prominence in India, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that fizzy drinks will soon replace water. This trend is worrisome as sugar-sweetened beverages are popular across society today, and not just amongst the young population. With no nutritional value whatsoever, these soda drinks pose a serious threat to our overall health.

It’s a well-known adage: Drinking too much soda is bad for you. But just how bad is excessive soda consumption for your body?

Soda and Heart Disease

A new study finds a surprisingly small serving of regular or diet soda can do major damage (Photo: iStock)
A new study finds a surprisingly small serving of regular or diet soda can do major damage (Photo: iStock)

Knowing something you do is bad for your health doesn’t necessarily stop you from doing it, which is why you probably drink soda from time to time despite knowing better.

A massive Swedish research study of more than 42,000 people over 12 years found that two or more servings of soda in a day can put people at a 25% increased risk of heart diseases than those who don’t touch aerated drinks.

The research was published in medical journal, Heart.

There have been many scientific studies validating the harmful association between soda drinks and lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Soft drinks also are directly related to diabetes.

A study published in medical journal JAMA on nurses who drank one or two servings of sweetened aerated beverages found that they had twice the risk of diabetes than those who didn’t. It’s a well-known fact that diabetes is a strong risk factor for coronary heart disease.

Diet Sodas Are No Better

(Photo Courtesy: Tumblr/ GOTDYNAWITES)
(Photo Courtesy: Tumblr/ GOTDYNAWITES)

Even though they are touted as low-calorie or zero-calorie drinks, they are far from it.

Diet drinks have many of the same health risks as regular soft drinks, including tooth decay, bone thinning, and have also been linked to heart disease and depression in women.

Artificial sweeteners trick your body into consuming more calories than you need, increasing the chances of weight gain and obesity. And the fact that super-sweet diet drinks make you crave even more sweets is something previous research has already shown.

(Photo Courtesy: Tumblr/Busy Beverage)
(Photo Courtesy: Tumblr/Busy Beverage)

Studies further suggest that soda drinks can even cause birth defects and cancer. In 2002, a scientific review conducted by European Food Safety Authority discovered that aspartame from diet sodas or any other artificial sweeteners can cause a range of serious illnesses, including birth defects and a range of cancers.

Bottom line: there are a whole host of reasons to kick your diet soda habit regardless of whether this latest study is statistically significant or not.

Related Video: Dr Pant’s Sugar Bombs: The Bittersweet Truth About Ketchup

How Much Sugar Is In Your Fizzy Drink?

Many people do not realise how much sugar is in soft drinks, including those which are marketed as “healthy”, such as fruit juice or flavoured waters (Photo: iStock)
Many people do not realise how much sugar is in soft drinks, including those which are marketed as “healthy”, such as fruit juice or flavoured waters (Photo: iStock)

Many juices and drinks marketed especially for children contain more than 7 to 8 teaspoons of sugar in just 200ml of the drink, which is more than a full-fat cold drink!

Sugar-sweetened beverages are currently the largest source of added sugar in the diet, accounting for about 50% of our total consumption. A sugar-laden diet may raise your risk of dying of heart disease even if you are not overweight.

According to the World Health Organisation and 2015 US Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommendation, intake of all added sugars should be no more than 10% of total energy intake (equivalent to about 12 teaspoons of sugar). But just one 12-oz serving of soda contains about 10 to 12 teaspoons of sugar.

People who consume sugary drinks regularly – about  1 to 2 cans a day or more – have a 26 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than people who rarely have such drinks.

(Dr Santosh Kumar Dora is a Cardiologist at the reputed Asian Heart Institute in Mumbai. He is the author of numerous clinical studies in national and international medical journals. You can drop him a word at santosh.dora@ahirc.com)