Health & Wellness

How sugary drinks unlock obesity genes – Nutritionally Speaking

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As we approach the end of this calendar year and decade, we will have many opportunities to resolve to do better, and sometimes there are ”baby steps” we can take that may be easier than we think. Many of us enjoy the many sweet drinks available to us in our kitchens and out on the town. I invite you all to consider reducing your sugar intake in the new year/decade, starting with your choice of beverages.
A large, decades-long study involving more than 33,000 participants has yielded clear proof that drinking sugary beverages interacts with genes that affect weight, amplifying our risk of obesity beyond what it would be from heredity alone.
This means that such drinks are particularly harmful to people with genes that predispose them to weight gain. And most of us have at least some of these genes!
The study results strongly suggest that sugary drinks cause people to pack on the pounds, independent of other unhealthy behavior such as overeating and getting too little exercise, according to the scientists participating in the study.
The large amount of sugar we consume on a daily basis poses a huge threat to our health as a nation. We are seeing increased numbers of people diagnosed with insulin resistance and type II diabetes. Type II diabetes used to be called ”Adult-Onset” Diabetes, but since younger people are now being diagnosed with this disease in ever-increasing numbers they had to make the name change.
Simply put, we are diagnosed with diabetes once the beta cells in the pancreas are worn out as a result of diets high in sugar. The beta cells produce the hormone insulin that we need to metabolize sugar, and insulin will tell us to store this excess sugar as fat.
Sugary soft drink consumption weakens our immune system, and with the cooler weather ushering in another cold and flu season, this is not a good option. Studies have also shown that consumption of large amounts of sugar contributes to mood swings, hyperactivity and learning disabilities in children and adults, and contribute to earlier onset of dementia.
Most of our local convenience stores proudly advertise large amounts of your favorite sugary soft drinks for very little cost, luring our residents (many of them youngsters) in for an inexpensive treat.
The average can of soda contains 10 teaspoons of sugar, and the common bottle of soda is 20 ounces, containing around 17 teaspoons of sugar. The huge cups our children are buying at our local convenience stores have a whopping 40 teaspoons of sugar.
Try this visual experiment: put 40 teaspoons of sugar into a bowl; this represents the sugar in one of those big cups of sugar-sweetened beverages you, your children or grandchildren are drinking. Our bloodstream will only have around a teaspoon of sugar at any one time, so this extra sugar gets stored mostly as fat.
Since these drinks have a high glycemic index and are quickly metabolized, some additional cookies or doughnuts are often needed to satisfy one’s ”sweet tooth.” With all of this sugar onboard, it’s no wonder our children have trouble sitting down to do their homework and the potential for behavioral issues abound. Do you have a challenge focusing on your work after that sweet roll and sugary coffee you enjoyed for your morning or afternoon break?
Sales of these drinks bring profits to our vendors, but at what cost? We are talking a lot these days about the high cost of health care and legislation to reform our health insurance system. We may be missing the point; we should be looking more at preventative care – what we are eating, and what snacks and beverages we and our children can have available after school or work (instead of a 40+ ounce sugary soft drink).
We all can, with healthier snack choices, avoid the lure of those inexpensive, sugar-sweetened beverages with their high costs to our health. Our health and the health of our future generations are dependent upon making positive changes now.
Happy New Year! Let’s make this next year and decade the best ever!



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