When the time comes to diet, it’s easy to start calculating which foods can stay and what high calorie items need to go. However, it’s not uncommon when writing out your dieting do’s and don’ts to forget that what you drink during the day can have just as big an impact on your weight as those sinful snacks to which you just said goodbye. The average American gets roughly one fifth of their daily calories from the beverages they consume, and a recent study suggests that for some people what they drink can have a major impact on their weight.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that individuals who possess a genetic disposition for obesity may also be at a higher risk of gaining weight from drinking sugary beverages.
According to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, individuals with a high genetic risk for obesity may have the genetic effects of obesity amplified by drinking high quantities of sugar from such sweetened beverages as soda, fruit punches, and sports drinks. In combination with two other studies, researchers at Harvard believe they now possess ample data that clearly links drinking even modest amounts of sweetened beverages with increased weight gain.
Sugar and Genes
As part of the study, researchers examined over 33,000 people and calculated each person’s genetic risk for obesity. Genetic factors were scored on a range from 0, meaning very little risk of obesity, to 64, which meant a person was at a very high risk of obesity. For every 10 points added to a person’s genetic risk score, those who drank the least amount of sugary drinks, less than one sugary beverage a month, had a 35 percent higher risk of developing obesity. However, those individuals who drank one or more sugary beverages a day were 235 percent more likely to develop diabetes.
So a person, for example, with a genetic risk score of 30 for obesity who drank just one bottle of soda a month would have a 105 percent greater risk of developing obesity, while someone with the same score who drank one bottle of soda a day would be 705 percent more likely to develop diabetes than someone without a genetic predisposition towards the condition.
While researchers were quick to point out that these studies only found a link between sugary beverages, excess weight, and genetic risk, not a direct cause and effect relationship. Even still, researchers hope their findings will encourage people to give up drinking sugary beverages or at the very least start considering them as they would a candy bar or cup cake.
So if drinking beverages loaded with sugar causes weight gain, what can you drink that’s thirst quenching and low calorie? Even though not very exciting, water is one of the best options available when you’re feeling thirsty. Not only can drinking water instead of soda save you hundreds of calories a day, but drinking two glasses of water before any meal could help you feel fuller more quickly, which may help reduce the amount you eat. Studies have also shown that drinking water may help boost your metabolism as well.
Other solid beverage choices for savvy weight watchers include vegetable juice, green tea, 100 percent fruit juice, low-fat milk, and coffee. Not only will these beverages help quench your thirst, but each contains valuable nutrients, antioxidants, or minerals needed to help maintain your long-term health. So the next time you think about cracking open a can of soda, just consider what that beverage could mean to not only your weight, but to your oral health as well.
Soda and Your Oral Health
Considering the high sugar content, it shouldn’t come as much surprise that drinking soda has a negative impact on your oral health. Plaque, a stick biofilm found in the mouth, uses sugar we consume to produce harmful substances that slowly erode away tooth enamel. Given enough time and provided plenty of sugary fuel, plaque will eventually cause the development of cavities and the early stage gum disease. That’s why protecting your oral health means not only brushing and flossing daily, but also reducing sugar consumption.
For those who drink diet, sugar-free sodas, you’re no safer than those who drinking the higher calorie brands. Both regular and diet sodas have a high acidity, which raises the overall pH of the mouth when consumed. Higher than normal levels of oral acid soften tooth enamel, making them more susceptible to the affects of plaque.
If you have any questions about the affects that drinking soda can have on your oral health, feel free to ask downtown dentist Dr. Jason Bajuscak during your next appointment at City Dental.