Two Sugary Beverages Every Day Doubles Risk of Death from Heart Disease
A study found adults who drink two sugary beverages per day have twice the risk of death from coronary heart disease compared to those who drink less than 1 ounce. It also discovered they have a higher risk of death from all causes, including other cardiovascular disorders.
Surprisingly, no association was found between eating sugary foods and a heightened risk of death. The researchers said this distinction could be due to the difference in which sugary beverages and foods are processed by the body.
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“There were two parts of this question we wanted to understand,” said Jean Welsh, Ph.D., M.P.H., study author, assistant professor at Emory University and a research director with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. “Do added sugars increase risk of death from heart disease or other causes, and, if so, is there a difference in risk between sugar-sweetened beverages and sugary foods? We believe this study adds strong data to what already exists highlighting the importance of minimizing sugary beverages in our diet.”
Welsh and her colleagues examined data from the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study, which involved 30,183 adults over the age of 45. After excluding those with a self-reported history of type 2 diabetes, heart disease or stroke, the final population was 17,930.
The researchers used food frequency questionnaires to obtain information on sugary beverage and food consumption. Sugar-sweetened beverages included sodas and fruit drinks, while sugar-sweetened foods included candy, desserts and sweetened breakfast foods, along with an array of foods containing sugar or syrups.
After following the participants six years, the research team looked at death records to see the cause of demise. They adjusted the results to eliminate factors that influence general health, such as smoking and physical activity, as well as factors that affect heart disease such as body weight and blood pressure.
Graded associations in death risk were seen with sugary beverages but not sugary foods. Sweetened drinks contain few, if any, other nutrients, so they flood the body with sugars that need to be metabolized, Welsh explained. Conversely, sugary foods usually contain proteins or fats, an aspect that slows metabolism and may account for the difference between the two in how they affect death risk.
Doctors Need to Ask Patients About Sugary Beverage Consumption
The findings should encourage doctors to ask patients about their sugary beverage intake, with the intent of recommending a dietary change that could lower their death risk, Welsh said.
“We know that if healthcare providers don’t ask patients about lifestyle practices linked to obesity and chronic disease, patients tend to think they’re not important,” Welsh said. “Simply asking patients about their sugary beverage consumption is valuable.”
The study was presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention | Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions 2018.
How to Kick a Sugary Beverage Habit
According to the American Heart Association, women should consume less than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day and men should consume less than 9 teaspoons per day. As a 12-ounce can of soda contains 9 teaspoons of sugar, one soda per day would put most people over their recommended daily limit.
To kick the sugary beverage habit, try drinking antioxidant-rich green tea, a beverage that studies link to an array of health benefits. Add a generous squeeze of lemon juice, and, if you desire, pour it over ice. It will be so refreshing and energy boosting that you aren’t likely to miss your soda or juice.
Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.