The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) says that sugary drinks are one of the main sources of added sugars for Americans. These include soda, energy drinks, fruit punch, and sports drinks. Drinking too many sugary drinks puts many Americans at risk for type 2 diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure. A recent research study found that even healthy people who drink more than two sodas a day show clear signs of kidney damage.
CURB YOUR SWEET TOOTH
If you have diabetes you need to carefully plan how many carbohydrates you eat each day. A single can of soda has 40 grams of carbohydrates, so you could easily lose control of your blood glucose levels from drinking soda. What can a person with diabetes who has a “sweet tooth” do?
In an effort to protect people from the damaging effects of sugary drinks, many drink companies started to sell diet drinks. Diet drinks replace sugar with artificial sweeteners, or sugar substitutes. Artificial sweeteners may also be called non-nutritive or low- calorie sweeteners. How do they work?
Imagine the sweetness of sugar. Now, multiply that by 100. That is the sweetening power of an artificial sweetener. Most artificial sweeteners have no calories or carbohydrates. If they do have calories, there are usually no more than 5 grams of carbohydrates in each drink serving. Zero- calorie drinks can help prevent spikes in your blood glucose levels. Since they have no sugar they can also prevent you from developing cavities.
TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE?
Since artificial sweeteners are so new, some people are not sure if they are healthy and safe. You may have heard some people say that they worry because these sweeteners are made in labs.
However, based on his own studies and on recent scientific research, Dr. Mark Pereira of the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota believes that artificially sweetened drinks can be a good choice. In fact, one recent study showed that artificially sweetened drinks may actually protect you from diabetes, heart disease, and strokes.
By Roxana Marincas, RD • Reviewed by Robert Ehrman, MD