Sugary drinks: A doorway to diabetes

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There’s no easier, faster way to guzzle down empty calories than by drinking beverages with added sugar.

“These types of drinks can be very high in calories, and when multiple sugary beverages are consumed in one day, it is very easy to consume more calories than the body needs, causing weight gain,” said Karah Stanley, a registered dietitian with the St. Elizabeth Physicians Weight Management Center. “One tablespoon of sugar contains 48 calories, and a 12 oz. Coke has 150 calories. Drinking even two of these a day take up a considerable amount of an average human’s daily calories.”

And that can lead to obesity, a major risk factor for Type 2 diabetes. But being overweight isn’t necessarily a requirement for developing diabetes.

According to a study performed by Diabetes Care, even in people with a normal weight, merely drinking one or two cans of soda per day increases their risk of diabetes by 26 percent. This is because the high sugar content of the drinks cause the hormone insulin to increase in the blood. Insulin’s job is to take sugar out of the blood stream and put it in the cells, but a high amount of insulin eventually leads to type 2 diabetes.

If you’re a lover of fizzy drinks, you might be thinking that switching to diet might be enough to avoid the consequences that can come with drinking sugary beverages. But you’d be wrong.

“While they have no sugar or calories, they have also been linked to weight gain and obesity,” Stanley said.

The solution: Water. Plain old water.

That might be too boring for some people, Stanley acknowledged. Fortunately, there are healthy ways to dress up a glass of water to make it more satisfying to the palate while still doing the body good.

“Stevia and monk fruit are natural sweeteners that have not been linked to any negative side effects and can be used to sweeten unsweetened tea or water with lemon,” Stanley said. “Crystal Light Pure, Water Drops, and Stur are all natural water enhancers that use stevia. Zevia and Blue Sky are soda brands that use stevia and can make a healthier alternative to regular diet sodas.”