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Done with the Soft Drinks

Soft drinks and fruit drinks are unhealthy, period.

I have been living in New York City for about 10 years and I still wonder, how do they do it?

Indeed, how can all these people I see in the street, at the office or at the restaurant drink day after day, sometimes several times a day, these huge cups of Coke, sweetened ice-teas and other lattes?

Is it that bad to just drink water?

We all know that these beverages are high in sugar and chemical ingredients. It is impossible to ignore all the articles and shows talking about the damage these drinks can cause: soft drinks and fruit drinks are unhealthy, period.

In 2009, Dr Lustig1 hosted a conference Sugar: The Bitter Truth available on Youtube. It got four millions hits, a record for a rather technical conversation lasting more than an hour.

The conference was a treasure trove of information on the subject of sugar AKA poison, according to him. Sugar is made of “glucose and fructose molecules”.

When you metabolize fructose in excess, your liver has no choice but to turn that energy into liver fat and that liver fat causes all of the downstream metabolic diseases.

In spite of this knowledge, the consumption of sugar is still on the rise:
41% for soft drinks and 35% for fruit juice2.

Because of the increased interest for this topic, the journalist Gary Taubes has published an article of the New York Times entitled Is Sugar Toxic? in which he praises the Lustig conference and adds some information on the subject.

“This means we can eat 100 calories of glucose (from a potato or bread or other starch) or 100 calories of sugar (half glucose half fructose), and it will be metabolized differently and have a different effect on the body… The fructose component of sugar and high fructose corn syrup is metabolized primarily by the liver, while glucose from sugar and starches is metabolized by every cell in the body. Consuming sugar (fructose and glucose) means more work for the liver than if you consumed the same number of calories of starch (glucose). And if you take that sugar in liquid form – soda or fruit juices – the fructose and glucose will hit the liver more quickly that if you consume them, say, in an apple (or several apples, to get what researches would call the equivalent dose of sugar.) 3″

Luckily, some countries have started to take some measures regarding the use of sugar. Mexico, which has the highest rate of obesity in the world, has just started to apply a tax on junk food and sugary drinks.

My advice: go back to simple things and learn to appreciate them.

Water is life. You may alternate with green tea, herbal teas, thyme, decaf tea such as Rooibos – in place of sweetened teas or lattes.

As for your children, don’t be in a hurry to introduce fruit juices into their diet. Water and milk will do just fine.

  1. Robert H. Lustig, MD, Leading expert in childhood obesity at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine.
  2. See Dr. Lustig conference for more information.
  3. ‘Is Sugar Toxic?’ Gary Taubes. The New York Times. Published April 13, 2011

Illustration by Blue Logan

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