A primary focus of Healthy Hydration Education involves the research associated with beverages that are high in sugar calories.
Surprisingly, the main source of sugar in the American diet does not come from dessert, but rather sugary beverages, soft drinks. Sugar that comes from such drinks can be linked to a number of heart conditions, an increase in energy intake, weight gain, and even a lack of essential nutrients in the body.
How much sugar really comes from a soft drink and how much do I need?
- Sodas and other soft drinks are extremely sugar heavy
- One 12 ounce orange soda may contain around 11 teaspoons of sugar total
- One 12 ounce orange juice may contain around 10 teaspoons of sugar total
- One 12 ounce cola may contain around 10 teaspoons of sugar total
- Water, on the other hand, contains no sugar, and in turn, no extra calories
- According to the American Heart Association, the average male consumer should not take in over 36 grams or 9 teaspoons and the average female consumer should not take in over 24 grams or 6 teaspoons of sugar each day. This is about 150 sugar calories for men and 100 sugar calories for women each day
- Recently, although still above the amount recommended by nutrition experts, the USDA has issued guidelines for the first time concerning sugar, recommending American males have no more than 200 calories worth of sugar a day and American females about 180 sugar calories a day
- It can sometimes be hard to find the word sugar on a label. In fact the percent of sugar in relation to the recommended daily value is never present even though it is usually there for other ingredients. Oftentimes, words such as lactose, glucose, crystal dextrose, fruit juice concentrates, corn syrup, molasses, maltose, sucrose, or high fructose corn syrup are used instead
How does high sugar affect me?
- Sugar has been shown to stimulate the pleasure centers in mice brains at a more intense level than that of cocaine
- The Harvard School of Public Health has found that those who drink 1 or 2 sugary drinks a day can lead to a:
- 26% increase in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- 35% increased risk of a heart attack or fatal heart disease
- 16% increased risk of a stroke
- High amounts of sugar have been known to cause:
- Tooth decay
- Gum disease
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- A shorter life span
- According to a study from Tufts University, sugary drinks such as fruit juices and sodas cause up to 184,000 deaths every year
- The obesity epidemic has become increasingly more prominent among impressionable children
What drinks are best to drink in moderation?
- Sodas: Perhaps the most obvious sugar-heavy beverages, these drinks are best to avoid under most circumstances, perhaps only on special occasions or important events
- Energy or Sports Drinks: Oftentimes, these beverages contain around two thirds of the sugar of sodas. Although marginally healthier choice than soda, they are still extremely high in sugar and one should only drink them moderately for extensive workouts
- Fruit juices: Although often advertised as “natural” and “healthy” for their high level of vitamins, fruit juices still retain heavy amounts of sugar without the fiber contained in the original fruits.
What about non-caloric artificial sweeteners?
- Although they don’t have the same obvious effects as sugar, these sweeteners may cause issues of their own
- Sweeteners cause people to develop the mindset that they can take in more sugars and calories
- They do not trigger the parts of the brain that cause satisfaction in the same way that regular sugar does
- Because they do not include calories as regular sugar does, consumers develop the idea that they can consume even more to make up for the calories that weren’t consumed through the sweetener
- There currently isn’t enough research concerning the long term effects of sweeteners to call them perfectly safe. In the future it will be more clear about the relationship sweeteners may have with diseases such as cancer.