Did you know that the average American drinks 2.6 glasses of soda per day? One glass is equal to a 12-ounce can, and a 12-ounce can of coke has 50 grams of added salt and 40 grams of added sugar, which hides the salty taste. The added salt in sodas is most likely subtly influencing you to continue drinking more sodas even though drinking more sodas will not really satisfy the underlying thirst for water. This is like drinking super-sweetened seawaters, which do not have any nutritional value. It is not that the sugar and salt are nono’s. You need sugar as an energy source for your body, and you need salt to maintain the fluids in your body as well as for your brain’s neurons to be able to send signals to each other. However, there have been studies that show a direct correlation between dietary salt consumption with sugar-sweetened beverage consumption, which, in turn, leads to an increased risk of an entire slew of medical conditions.
A study published in the Hypertension found that the more sodas you consumed the higher your blood pressure will be. Moreover, the greatest increase in blood pressures was observed amongst participants who consumed more glucose and fructose, which are both sweeteners found in high-fructose corn syrup, the most common sugar sweetener in the beverage industry. Research results suggested that sugar and salt together may be worse than salt alone, since it was observed that the highest blood pressure increase had a direct correlation with the highest number of sugar-sweetened beverages in addition to having the highest level of salt intake.
A different article published in the British Medical Journal reported that too much sodium can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease as well as increase your risk of having a heart attack. The American Heart Association recommends that no more than half of the discretionary calorie allowance should come from added sugars, which for most American women is no more than 22 grams of sugar (100 calories) per day and for most American men no more than 33 grams of sugar (150 calories) per day. However, one in four Americans easily get at least 200 calories from the beverages they consume. Just take a look at the chart below.
Mountain Dew (12 oz can) : 170 calories
Martini (3 oz) : 205 calories
Red/white wine (half glass) : 105 calories
Guinness beer (16oz/1 pint) : 168 calories
Snapple fruit punch (16 oz bottle) : 220 calories
Starbucks vanilla latte (venti 20 oz) : 400 calories
Jamba Juice strawberry surf rider (24 oz) : 430 calories
InNOut Burger vanilla milkshake (15 oz) : 680 calories
As you can see, you can easily consume the salt, the sugar, and the calories all with one drink. Furthermore, the relationship between sweetened beverages and body weight is so strong that some researchers have calculated that for each additional drink consumed the risk of obesity increases 1.6 times. Put another way, one soda a day equals 13 extra pounds per year. And if that was not enough of a reason to reconsider sweetened drinks, sweetened drinks is more dangerous than just increasing obesity and overall calorie intake. Researchers at the Columbia University Medical Center discovered that soda, in particular, elevated blood sugar levels and decreased blood flow to the hippocampus. As the brain uses glucose as a fuel, if the blood sugar is consistently too high, then the body pumps out excess insulin, which causes inflammation and oxidative stress that prematurely age your brain.
As with food, enjoy the drinks in moderation if you are craving it, and then, switch to water (or sparkling water for the carbonation) with lemon or unsweetened teas to stay hydrated. You will feel great physically and mentally!