Reach for a glass of coke and lose your life

Most of us at some stage or another have reached for a fizzy drink whether to quench a thirst or as a mixer with alcohol. There are a number of newer types of recreational soft drinks now on the market with a few positioning themselves as sports drinks. The marketing idea is that somehow the drink contains goodness through salt replenishment, energy or nutrients.

The old traditional fizzy soft drinks such as coke also continue to be popular and are also now in a market category that is represented by a lot more brands than even 20 years ago. Some people drank them for taste, some for the energy burst or pick up, some for the claimed benefits in sports performance or the like.

The collective consumption of all these types of drinks has doubled since 1985 from 10 gallons to 25 gallons per head per year. This is substantial. There is now new medical research coming out of Britain that shows that even moderate consumption of these types of drinks poses a real health hazard.

Research by Bangor University has revealed how even a can per day, or just two a week can alter our metabolism over time such that we put on weight and create the basis for Diabetes, liver disease, hyper=tension and heart disease.

Research shows that in children these drinks can assist in the formation of addict-like cravings and orient their appetites for junk and salty food.  The Bangor University research showed how the taking of these drinks affected metabolism by having muscles alter their energy transformation function by consuming sugar as the energy source instead of burning fat.

This creates a less efficient metabolism process, and we increase our retained fat and so put on weight. There appears to be a gene adaption process change that causes muscles to target sugar for energy creation, but this also means that our metabolic process is less able to cope with rises in blood sugar levels, and facilitates the potential onset of Diabetes Type 2.


An American study of 42,000 men who were tracked over 20 years showed that men who drank a standard 12 oz can of sugar sweetened drink every day had a 20 per cent higher risk of heart disease compared to men who did not drink any such beverages at all.

This study was published by the American Heart Association in their journal called Circulation. It also revealed that blood tests had shown that soft drink users had higher levels of harmful inflammation in their blood vessels, and lowered levels of “good”  HDL cholesterol.

Even more disturbing was the research findings reported in the journal “Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention”. This research linked the consumption of just two 330ml carbonated drinks every week to a double increase in the risk of Pancreatic Cancer.

Separate Israeli research on soft drinks with high levels of fruit juice  may be creating possible long term liver damage. The reason is that fructose fruit sugar in such drinks  can overwhelm the liver which responds by accumulating fat which is then the cause of “fatty liver”.

The Israeli study revealed that two cans of such fruit drinks a day were 5 times more likely to develop “fatty liver” which can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. There have been calls in Europe and the USA for soft drink taxes to cut consumption as these drinks have been around for over 200 years in various forms and have been traditionally viewed as innocuous.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this emerging research is the research around children. The work done by the University College London’s Health Behaviour Research Centre illustrates this concern.

Their work showed in a study of 346 children aged around 11 years found that drinking soft drinks makes them want to drink more often, even when they are not actually thirsty. They developed addictive tendencies towards sugary drinks which at a young age became a life habit.

Related research found support for this change in tastes. This Oregon USA based study found that fizzy drinks consumption became accompanied by taste preference towards high calorie, high salt food such as chips. These researchers found learned resistance towards raw vegetables and low calorie foods by children who habitually consumed fizzy drinks.

Be well

Dr Sundardas

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