According to research by the Ministry of Health (MOH), Singaporeans consume more than 1,500 teaspoons of sugar from soft drink consumption every year.
Excessive sugar consumption in Singapore has resulted in increased cardiovascular disease risk and other chronic diseases such as obesity, kidney damage, and certain cancers.
While the fact that soda isn’t exactly healthy is nothing earth-shattering, experts say that carbonated soft drinks may have even more detrimental effects on your well-being than you realise.
What's so bad about sugar-sweetened beverages anyway?
Just keep reading to find out why you should cut down on your favourite canned drinks.
Sugary Drinks Don't Make You Full
Unlike the sugar you obtain from regular food, the liquid sugar found in canned drinks does not provide the same satisfaction of being full.
Soft drinks contain no nutritional value, such as vitamins, minerals, and fibre. The only contribution it adds to your body is excessive amounts of added sugar and unnecessary calories.
You also get hungry faster due to the 'empty calories' of sugary drinks, possibly leading to more snacking or overeating at mealtimes, consequently causing weight gain too.
According to a health survey conducted in 2019, 30% of Singapore adults belong to the overweight category, with 13% hitting the obese mark.
But what exactly does sugar do to the body, you might ask? Let's explore further.
Soft Drinks Can Lead to a Fatty Liver
Your canned soft drinks contain high fructose corn syrup as their primary sugar ingredient, and only your liver can metabolise it.
This is why overconsumption of soft drinks puts additional work and stress on your liver.
Usually, digested sugars are shipped out as blood triglycerides (fats). However, drinking sugar-sweetened beverages excessively can lead to an overproduction of fat by the liver.
The excess fat not delivered to other body parts remains in the liver. This fat accumulation is also known as Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.
Sugar Increases Belly Fat Accumulation
The fructose in soft drinks also results in weight gain, specifically from the increase of dangerous belly fat, also known as visceral fat.
This excessive belly fat increases your risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease (e.g. high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high cholesterol etc.).
In Singapore, almost one in nine people are diagnosed with diabetes. And this number is projected to reach one million in 2050 if we continue our current eating habits.
Too Much Soda Consumption Leads to Insulin Resistance
When you consume sugary beverages, your body may become less sensitive to the hormone insulin that converts glucose into energy and reduces sugar levels in the bloodstream.
When there is a high sugar intake, it leads to high blood sugar, which then signals your pancreas to release more insulin.
Once the glucose is converted, the insulin levels will return to their original baseline when the bloodstream does not have glucose.
However, when you consistently consume sugary drinks, this leads to consistently high levels of insulin hormones. After sustained periods of high insulin levels, the body begins to overproduce that same amount of insulin even when there is no glucose in your body.
This leads to your body being less "responsive" when your blood sugar rises. Hence, excessive fructose intake is the cause of the condition known as insulin resistance, the leading cause of metabolic syndrome and diabetes type 2.
Soft Drinks are Very Addictive
It is common knowledge that canned drinks are highly addictive. Like a drug, the sugar we consume from our canned drinks releases dopamine in our brains resulting in euphoria.
Because our brain is wired to seek activities that release dopamine, we might get hooked on this reward-seeking behaviour, leading to what is known as food addiction.
Maybe this explains why Singaporeans consume so many canned drinks.
Find out more about why canned drinks can be so addictive. [links to the other article]
Sugary Sodas Can Cause Tooth Decay and Gout
Soft drinks contain strong acids such as phosphoric acid and carbonic acid. These acids create a highly acidic environment in your mouth, leaving your tooth enamel vulnerable to decay.
In addition, when you drink soda, the bacteria in your mouth interact with the sugar from soft drinks to produce an acidic byproduct that damages your teeth enamel, causing cavities.
Gout is an arthritic condition when your body accumulates too much uric acid, causing inflammation in your joints.
Excessive fructose consumption from sugary soda will increase uric acid levels in your body, leading to gout or other inflammatory disorders.
So, what are some better choices to replace soft drinks?
There are plenty of other refreshing and nutritious beverages you can choose from over your favourite sugar-sweetened beverages.
However, avoid diet soda consumption to replace your sugar-sweetened beverage intake, as the artificial sweeteners in diet soda can be as addictive as regular sugary sodas.
Here are some healthier, low-calorie thirst quenchers that will satisfy your taste buds.
Plain sparkling water itself can be enough if you're just craving bubbles.
Or, you can infuse sparkling water with delicious flavours to make it less bland.
Go natural with green or black tea, which has antioxidant benefits.
Recharge yourself with a cup of coffee instead.
Refresh with a glass of coconut water or other low-sugar fruit juices.
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Add our syrup mixes to make drinking water as fun as conventional sugary drinks without health concerns!
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Furthermore, SodaStream’s classic series of flavoured drinks contain just one-third the sugar of conventional soft drinks. Thus you can enjoy a cold refreshing cup of SodaStream flavoured drink without worrying about your health.
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