WEIGHT GAIN AND HEALTH EFFECTS OF SOFT DRINKS

Soft drinks refer to carbonated non-alcoholic beverages, which are usually canned or packed in bottles. These drinks normally contain natural or artificial flavorings and have sweeteners, which are either sugar, corn syrup that is high in fructose and sugar substitutes for the diet ones (Ashurst, 2016) . These drinks have also proven to possess varying amounts of caffeine, preservatives among other ingredients. Sodas, the most popular soft drinks are the second most consumed beverages after water. On average, there are 56 gallons of soda taken by a single individual each year in the United States (Nestle, Bittman, & Baer, 2015). This rate is alarming and what is more serious is the health effects that these drinks pose to the consumers. Serious health problems accrue to consumers who consistently use these soft drinks, and thus their impact cannot be ignored.

The research paper will examine the short comings associated with use the soft drinks. The paper will also choose to debate why most people have now accepted the use soft drinks despite having major health effects. The same will also include an analysis of different alternatives that people can use to replace consumption of soft drinks. This will also give remedies that affected people can use to lessen the health problems arising from excessive use of soft drinks. It is obvious that excessive consumption of these drinks can be alleviated depending on the approaches undertaken by the users. 

            Non-alcoholic beverages are evidently a popular choice of liquids to most Americans. With the average American consuming 56 gallons of the drink, there is no doubt concerning the magnitude of the people affected by its excessive intake. Lifestyle diseases are on the rise in the current era. The suffering and even deaths associated with these diseases are factors that should be handled with the seriousness that they deserve. Most of these diseases are preventable with better life choices but evidently, not many people choose the healthy path as evidenced by the statistics of people who excessively consume these drinks in relation to water consumption (Nestle, Bittman, & Baer,2015).

            Diabetes is one of the diseases, which is attributable to the excessive consumption of sugars. A single can of soda has an estimated ten spoonfuls of sugar. Companies producing soft drinks are the largest users of sugar in the country. The fact that this sugar is usually in liquid form, it makes things worse. The immediate effect after soft drink consumption is the skyrocketing of blood sugar triggering the release of insulin in a bid to regulate the sugar. Insulin helps transport blood sugar to the body cells and thus the more the sugar intake, the more the insulin produced (Greenwood et al., 2014). The cells react by resisting the effects of insulin; a condition is known as insulin resistance, prompting the release of even more insulin. A recent research conducted by the Harvard school of public health’s nurses involved the analysis of 90000 people over a period of eight years. The women who reported to have had more than one serving of sugar-sweetened soft drinks and juices were twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who did not (De Koning, Malik, Rimm, Willett, & Hu, 2011) . The breakdown of the results was as in figure 1.

Figure 1

Source (De Koning, Malik, Rimm, Willett, & Hu, 2011)

As per the diagram, the more the soft drinks one took, the greater the risk of developing type Two Diabetes. A person who consumed one glass of the drinks per month had a much lower potential risk of development of diabetes than individuals who took them more often. This chart therefore clearly illustrates the risks imminent to persons with a high affinity of the soft drinks.

            Excessive weight gain is also attributable to the increased consumption of the soft drinks. The ultimate effect of this weight increase is obesity, which continues to be one of the most increasing scenarios in America today. A single can of soda has around 150 calories. When one consumes soda or other sugary fluids, within 20 minutes, the liver responds to the increase in blood sugar by turning the sugar into fat for storage. One of the most affected parts, which store the excess fat, are the belly. This organ stores the visceral fat as well as other internal organs.

 The fructose available in the soft drinks also plays a significant role in weight gain. Excessive intake of the compound plus sugar causes leptin intolerance. Leptin is a hormone produced by the body’s fat cells, which is responsible for regulating the energy balance in accordance to the calories a person takes (Morton, & Schwartz, 2011). It is also a satiety and starvation hormone. Since it is a satiety hormone, it is responsible for making us feel full when we consume large amounts of foods or food with excessive sugars to stop us from eating. When the sugar levels in the body go down, the hormone consequently works and makes a person feel hungry to prevent starvation. The compromise of this hormone translates to the inability to perform these two functions thus cannot be able to help regulate the rate at which a person eats. The ultimate effect is the increased intake of sugary foods leading to weight gain and obesity.

            Sodas pose a greater risk of human bones. Phosphoric and carbonic acid found in the drinks damages the bones and most especially the teeth by creating a very acidic environment, which makes the teeth prone to decay, and weakening them (Cunha, Barrado, Faria, & Fernandes, 2011) . The sugar in them also feeds the harmful mouth bacteria making them stronger, and one suffers from dental issues such as increased sensitivity, mouth odor, and cavities. Calcium is the most important component in the facilitation of the development of healthy teeth and bones. Milk is the leading provider of this nutrient. Shifting to milk from soda is, therefore, one of the most prudent decisions that a person can undertake in a bid to restore his/her health.

            Heart attacks are also more prone to heavy soft drink users. This is because once a person gains excess weight, not only does the fat fill the fat cell but it also formed around internal body organs (Morton, & Schwartz, 2011). The heart is one of the organs which is usually surrounded by the fat, and the ultimate effect is that the regular pumping of the blood does not proceed as it should. The fat makes it harder for the heart muscles to constrict and relax thus creating increased tension as the heart strains to beat. This pressure continues until such a time when the heart can no longer put up with it, and the result is a heart attack. 

            Diet soda is the type of drink believed to contain no sugars hence a common choice for most people. The truth, however, remains that if anything, this kind of soda is worse than regular soda. According to research conducted by the integrative medicine center, people who drank diet sodas had a higher obese prevalence than those who did not. The ultimate effects included the risk for colon, kidney and pancreatic cancers. The main reason, which is attributable to the increase disease prevalence, is the fact that diet sodas contain sugar substitutes such as sucralose and saccharin, which ruins the body’s natural metabolic processes. Once the metabolic process is ruined, it causes the body to store fat instead of burning it, which increases the risks of obtaining most lifestyle diseases, cancer being among them. Urinary and bladder cancers also occur due to certain sugar substitutes making these sodas an even worse choice than the regular soft drinks.

            Perhaps the most important point that people need to note down is that soft drinks contain not a single healthy ingredient. These drinks contain no antioxidants, minerals or nutrients that would at least give them some positive impact. Being an “empty” calorie drink is reason enough for them to be boycotted though that is a long way from coming to pass. In any case, the drinks only lead to effects such as dehydration due to their high sugar and caffeine content, signified by increased skin problems such as acne and dry skin. The massive levels of caffeine available in the drinks have been proven to block the absorption of magnesium into the body. Magnesium is an essential element for the reaction of more the 300 enzymes in the body, and so its inhibition prevents processes such as detoxification (Morton, & Schwartz, 2011). This causes accumulation of toxins in the body. The skin and the kidneys are the two organs most affected by the toxins. Evidently, there is not even a single benefit of consuming these products, and thus they are better avoided to prevent all these effects. Soft drink substitutes such as milk and dairy products e.g. yogurts, fresh juice, and water are vital for healthier lives and should thus be deeply considered.

            Soft drinks are undoubtedly the most common fluids consumed after water. These drinks are so widespread and common thus attempting to advise people against them more of futile. Even though they are so popular, the drinks have no health benefits and contain no nutrients at all. To make the situation worse, serious lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, obesity, heart diseases and some form of cancers can be traced back to their excessive consumption. The drinks also have serious effects on human teeth and bones. The sugars feed the bacteria found in the mouth leading to excessive tooth decays and other oral problems. Other bones also become relatively weaker due to the lack of enough calcium, which is their strengthening component. These adverse effects and not a single positive health effect are reasons sufficient to discard soft drink consumption. The fact that an average American consumes around 56 gallons of the drinks per year is very alarming and must change if people want to lead healthier lives.

References

Ashurst, P. R. (2016). Chemistry and technology of soft drinks and fruit juices. John Wiley & Sons

Cunha, S. C., Barrado, A. I., Faria, M. A., & Fernandes, J. O. (2011). Assessment of 4-(5-) methylimidazole in soft drinks and dark beer. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, 24(4), 609-614.

De Koning, L., Malik, V. S., Rimm, E. B., Willett, W. C., & Hu, F. B. (2011). Sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened beverage consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes in men. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 93(6), 1321-1327.

Greenwood, D. C., Threapleton, D. E., Evans, C. E. L., Cleghorn, C. L., Nykjaer, C., Woodhead, C., & Burley, V. J. (2014). Association between sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened soft drinks and type 2 diabetes: systematic review and dose–response meta-analysis of prospective studies. British Journal of Nutrition, 112(05), 725-734.

Morton, G. J., & Schwartz, M. W. (2011). Leptin and the central nervous system control of glucose metabolism. Physiological reviews, 91(2), 389-411.

Nestle, M., Bittman, M., & Baer, N. (2015). Soda politics: taking on big soda (and winning). Oxford University Press, USA.

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