Sugar Alone Might Not Shorten Your Lifespan, but This Could
It’s poison for your body
I was about seven years old when I tasted it for the first time. I was at my best friend’s birthday party. We were all having the time of our lives — there was a blow up bouncy house, endless boxes of pizza, freshly popped popcorn, and a giant snack table. It felt like I was at the circus, and there was absolutely nothing that could make this day any better.
After jumping in the bouncy house and running around playing tag with my friends, I was tired and thirsty. We all headed over to the snack table to get some food and drinks. And that’s when I saw it. The sweet, bubbly, carbonated drink that I had only ever dreamed of tasting.
My parents were never that strict about what we ate. They weren’t health nuts who swore us off all processed food and sugar from a young age. But the one thing that we were never allowed to have growing up, was soda.
But on this day, at my best friend’s birthday party, I had my first sip of the bubbly beverage.
And I was hooked. From that day on, whenever I got the chance — at pizza parties, friends’ houses, and school dances, I drank soda.
Even when I became more aware of the negative impacts of consuming excess sugar, I didn’t stop drinking soda. I simply switched to diet soda. I figured it was healthier because it had no sugar or calories, but I was severely mistaken. If you’ve been hooked on soda in the past like me, or you still drink it regularly, here are the reasons you shouldn’t.
First, drinking a lot of it can turn into fat in your liver.
Consuming too much sugar overloads your liver and turns it into fat. This is dangerous because it can lead to fatty liver disease, which affects 25 percent of the world’s population, and has been linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes.
And soda is one of the easiest ways to overload your liver, because a single can contains about 39 grams of sugar.
So, by downing a 12 oz can of soda, you’ve already well exceeded the daily maximum recommendation of added sugar in your diet (25 grams). In doing so, you’ll be forcing your body to process a heavy load of poison that it certainly doesn’t want.
It can increase dangerous fat stores.
One specific area highly affected by a large intake of sugar is belly fat. The increase in belly fat that results from drinking sugary beverages like soda has been linked to a higher risk of heart disease.
Therefore, you could be putting yourself at risk of early death. After all, heart disease is one of the top killers in America, and it’s highly related to diet. So, cutting out soda might just put you on a better path to increasing your lifespan.
But, it’s not the sugar alone that’s worrisome.
You might be thinking about switching to diet soda.
This is exactly what I did. I thought that by swapping my regular soda out for a diet one, I’d get rid of all the sugar and solve my problems. Turns out, diet soda isn’t much better. In fact, it might even be worse.
Diet soda uses artificial sweeteners to mimic the sweetness of traditional soda without the sugar and calories.
However, the chemicals contained in diet soda seem to contribute to heart, metabolic, brain, and liver problems. Also, because of the extreme sweetness of the artificial sweeteners, your sugar cravings might be amplified after drinking diet soda.
While the results aren’t 100 percent certain one way or the other, I still don’t want to potentially subject myself to those negative side effects. And soda, whether it be diet or regular, doesn’t have any nutritional value, so you aren’t providing your body any nourishment by drinking it.
Here are some things that helped me quit soda:
- I switched to bubbly waters — Switching to healthier alternatives like La Croix helped me still get that carbonation fix without all the added sugar and chemicals. La Croix is just bubbly water that is naturally essenced with no sugar, so it’s way healthier than a can of soda. My current favorite flavors are the Hibiscus and Lemoncello.
- I quit cold turkey — This might not work for some, but I think it would have been incredibly hard if I continued to drink soda in any capacity. Processed sugar is highly addictive, and I found that by staying disciplined those first few weeks, I was able to kick the soda drinking habit for good.
- I ate natural sugars — Replacing my typical soda with natural sugars such as fruits and healthy desserts without a bunch of added sugar helped me immensely. I still satisfied my sweet tooth, but I didn’t have to sacrifice my health in the process. If you’re looking for a yummy recipe, try this naturally sweetened vegan blueberry banana bread.
While habits can be incredibly hard to break, any single one that is negatively impacting your health and potentially shortening your lifespan is worth addressing. It might be a long and difficult process, but if you keep at it, you’ll get there eventually.
Six years ago, if you told me I wouldn’t be drinking soda anymore, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. But here I am, living a healthier, happier, and potentially longer life. And I know you will be too.
Read more fitness/health/lifestyle content on my blog, nomeatfastfeet.com