Stopping The Rising Tide Of Diabetes One Can At A Time

Many of us spent our childhoods unconcerned about the amount or type of sugar we consumed. We slammed down cans of Coke and munched Snickers bars in sweet abandon.

Those of us fortunate to have spent much of our youth outside, biking all over several neighborhoods, playing kickball, and frequenting school playgrounds burned off most of the simple carbohydrates we consumed.

As we grew older, activity levels may have dropped, but our enjoyment of sweets typically continued. In addition, many of us have consumed countless processed foods containing inconspicuous added sugars.

Not So Sweet Consequences

Now, in the U.S., almost 30 million people have diabetes, and 86 million have pre-diabetes. From 1990 to 2013, there was a 71 percent increase in U.S. diabetes prevalence, mostly type 2.

Maybe you already are pre-diabetic, or have been diagnosed with diabetes, but we need to help our kids and grandkids avoid this problem. This is vital since children today tend to be more sedentary than generations past.

Recent research makes it clear why one easy way to reduce the incidence of diabetes is cutting back on the consumption of sweetened drinks.

One Less Soda Per Day

According to one study, for every extra 150 calories of sugar ingested there is an 11-fold rise in the likelihood of type 2 diabetes—when compared to the same amount of calories consumed as fat or protein. One 8 ounce energy drink that contains 24 grams of sugar gives the consumer 96 calories from sugar.

A meta-review published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings indicates that after people reach 18 percent of their daily calories from added sugar, they experience a twofold increase in the metabolic damage that facilitates pre-diabetes and diabetes. Much of this added sugar comes from downing sweetened libations.

Across the Atlantic, researchers in Cambridge discovered that those who consume sweetened-milk beverages and soft drinks are at increased risk for diabetes no matter what their body weight—and the risk increases by 22 percent for each extra daily serving of sugary beverages.

However, exchanging one soda or other sugary drink for an unsweetened one (e.g., tea, coffee, water) reduced the risk of diabetes by up to 25 percent. (There was no reduced risk associated with drinking artificially sweetened beverages; they were linked to the development of diabetes as well.)

It’s About Cutting Carbs

“Cutting down on carbs was...found to be the single most effective intervention for reducing all the features of metabolic syndrome and should be the first approach in diabetes management, with benefits occurring even without weight loss,” said diabetes researcher Dr. Aseem Malhotra.

There are other ways to cut back on carb consumption than limiting sweetened drinks, but it seems that saying “no” each day to a can of Mountain Dew, an energy drink, or a sweetened iced tea can greatly benefit our health, and that of our kids.

Sources: Mercola; Healthy Eating
Photo credit: Orin Zebest

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