Cut Out Soda, Cut Your Risk of Diabetes

CaptureAmericans consume nearly 130 pounds of added sugars per person every year. This includes both sugar and high fructose corn syrup. These sugars lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease and can be found in sweetened drinks, syrup, honey, breads, and yogurts. Since the 1970’s sugar consumption has decreased 40%, this is slightly misleading since there has been an increase in fructose consumption in the form of high fructose corn syrup. This is the type of sugar is found in most sodas and sugary soft drinks. Fructose, as it happens, is the sweetest of all sugars and leaves us craving more. Fructose consumption triggers euphoric or ‘feel good’ chemical activity in the brain, similar to a ‘reward system’ such that when you eat sugar, your brain feels pleasure. The more sugar you eat, the greater your threshold to reach this pleasure sensation is, so you need more and more daily.

A reduced-sugar diet has many benefits including weight loss, reduction in risk for diabetes, and decreased risk of heart disease. A study last year actually found that switching out just one sugary soda per day for water, or unsweetened coffee or tea – could lower the risk for type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes, by 25%. The findings were based on detailed food diaries from over 25,000 middle-aged and older British adults. When the study started all participants were diabetes-free, but almost 1000 were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes by study end. Overall, the study found that the more sugary soda people consumed, the higher their risk of developing diabetes. There was an increased risk of diabetes by about 22% for every extra daily serving.

Repeated surges in blood sugar, that soda causes, make the pancreas work harder and can contribute to insulin resistance, thereby increasing the risk for Type 2 diabetes. Sugars in fruit metabolize slowly because they are contained in fibrous walls. This means the digestive tract takes more time to break them down and sugars enter the bloodstream more slowly giving the liver more time to metabolize them. Fruit can also help keep us from overeating by making us feel fuller. This sensation of feeling fuller happens because the fiber-rich fruit breaks down more slowly, traveling longer through the digestive tract, triggering the satiety hormones that tend to cluster further down the small intestines, unlike processed, sugary, junk food.

We already know that too much sugar contributes to obesity and other health issues but avoiding fruit is not the answer. Unfortunately, fruit gets a bad rap, as it is high in sugar and often perceived as unhealthy. But fresh fruit is actually associated with a lower body weight and a lower risk of obesity-associated diseases. Unlike candy, juices or sodas, whole fruits contain antioxidants and healthful nutrients. Additionally, their cellular framework, made of fiber, helps you feel full longer, balances blood sugar and is beneficial in maintaining a proper metabolism. Take an apple for example. The fruit’s fiber helps slow your absorption of fructose, the main sugar in most fruits. Four apples are about equivalent to 24 ounces of soda in terms of sugar, but the slow rate of absorption for an apple minimizes any surge in blood sugar.

Other research has shown that sugar could be helping some cancer tumors to grow because sugar stimulates the production of insulin. Nearly 1/3 of common cancers (including some breast and colon) contain insulin receptors that eventually signal the tumor to consume glucose. Some tumors have even adapted to an insulin-rich environment and as such, divert glucose-rich blood from the bloodstream to itself. So cut down on the soda, it might just save your life.

David Samadi, MD - Medical Contributor

View posts by David Samadi, MD - Medical Contributor
Dr. Samadi is a board-certified urologic oncologist trained in open and traditional and laparoscopic surgery and is an expert in robotic prostate surgery. He is chairman of urology, chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital and professor of urology at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. He is a medical correspondent for the Fox News Channel's Medical A-Team. Learn more at Visit Dr. Samadi's blog at Follow Dr. Samadi on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.
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