Sweetened beverages like sodas have no nutritional value. So, cutting them out of our diet can improve our health in many ways. They consist of carbonated water, an artificial sweetener such as fruit juice, high-fructose corn syrup, or sugar, and artificial or natural flavoring.
But, how exactly are they affecting our insulin and blood glucose levels? Should people with diabetes avoid them completely or replace them with diet sodas?
Here’s everything we need to know about the link between sodas and diabetes.
Sweetened Beverages and the Risk of Diabetes
The major causes of type 2 diabetes are physical inactivity, obesity, and genetics. But, diet is probably the greatest risk factor for diabetes. So, sodas and similar sweetened beverages can play a huge role.
Drinking soda is not only a risk factor for diabetes, but also for obesity.
British researchers analyzed 17 studies to find out if fruit juice, sweetened beverages, and “diet” beverages can affect the risk of type 2 diabetes in those who are not obese.
The meta-analysis involved 38,250 people who drank fruit juice, sugary beverages, and artificially sweetened drinks. All of them had type 2 diabetes.
The results showed that drinking at least 250ml of sugar-sweetened beverages a day increases the risk of diabetes type 2 by 18%, and obesity by 13%.
Fruit juices raise the incidence of type 2 diabetes by 5%, and obesity by 7%. And, artificially sweetened beverages increase the risk of type 2 diabetes by 25%, and obesity by 8%.
According to the researchers, reducing the intake of sugary drinks can cut the number of new diabetes cases by around 2 million in the US over a period of ten years.
Another 16-year-long European study shows that consuming 12 oz of soda daily could raise the risk of type 2 diabetes by 18%. What’s more, drinking two sodas a day turned out to increase the risk of stroke by 18%.
What About Diet Sodas?
The beverage industry started producing diet drinks to help people dealing with diabetes or obesity, or at least that’s what they say. However, these beverages contain artificial sweeteners with zero or little calories.
The number of diabetes and obesity continued to rise even after the advent of artificial sweeteners. In fact, numerous studies conducted in the past 30 years show that artificial sweeteners promote diabetes and obesity similarly to regular sugar.
There are even some studies that claim they are worse than high fructose corn syrup and regular sugar.
For instance, Food Network discovered that aspartame and saccharin both cause higher weight gain than regular sugar.
Healthline points out that people who drink diet soda on a regular basis have the same problems as those who drink regular soda. These problems include stroke, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and excessive weight gain.
This suggests that the word ‘diet’ doesn’t mean the beverage is less harmful than regular sodas.
How Sodas Affect the Insulin and Blood Sugar Levels
Sodas, both regular and diet, contain sugar or artificial sugar. So, the liver turns these huge amounts of sugar into fat, storing the larger part, as a response to this insulin burst. This, in turn, increases weight gain.
Also, the chronically raised insulin level is a major risk factor for diabetes and other chronic diseases such as cancer.
Avoid drinking sweetened beverages and diet sodas as they all cause a host of health problems. Some of them are type 2 diabetes and diabetes complications like stroke, heart failure, kidney damage, and vision loss.