Everyone knows that if you have blood sugar concerns, there are certain foods you should limit to stay healthy. Over decades of research, we have learned that everyone should limit their intake of sugar-heavy drinks like soda regardless of their blood sugar health. Drinking a can of soda can push you above the recommended limit of sugar for the whole day.
Most people who have blood sugar concerns avoid soda and other sugar-ladened drinks. But, for some folks, it’s their treat. They’ll plan out their day so that they can enjoy it without upsetting their blood sugar. They’ll drink small amounts, pair it with fiber or go some other route to enjoy a beverage. We get it! Everyone has the thing they love.
But, a new study from Harvard may have you cutting out sugary drinks, even if you love them. They asked 12,000 people with blood sugar concerns how often they drank sugary drinks like soda, fruit punch and lemonade. They found that people who drank sugar-sweetened drinks were more likely to develop heart disease or die prematurely than those who did not. Each serving of the drinks was associated with an eight percent higher risk of all causes of death.
The study found that switching to versions of the drinks that were artificially sweetened lowered the overall risk of death by eight percent and the risk of death from heart disease by 15 percent. That means swapping from a cola to a diet cola could be lifesaving. But many studies have questioned how safe artificial sweeteners are. The researchers found that the healthiest drinks in their study were plain tea and coffee, low-fat cow’s milk and water. They reduced the risk of mortality, especially when they were drunk in place of sugary drinks.
This study was observational. Researchers asked people about their diet, but they didn’t have them change anything. It can only show a link, not a cause. It could be that people who drink sugary drinks regularly also have other behaviors in common. It’s possible that people with blood sugar concerns who don’t drink sugar-sweetened beverages also exercise more and have a better diet overall. Maybe they sleep better.
Having said that, we know sugar-heavy drinks aren’t healthy. This study does give a strong indication that they may cause serious harm. While you might not be ready to give them up completely, this might push you to cut back on them more. Make them a special treat so they aren’t regularly in your diet. You may be doing your heart and health a big favor!
“People living with [blood sugar concerns] should be picky about how they keep themselves hydrated,” said lead author Qi Sun. “Switching from sugar-sweetened beverages to healthier beverages will bring health benefits.”