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Fizzy drinks – lemonade, cola and sparkling fruit juices may taste good, but the truth is they are detrimental to your overall health and have no positive impact on your wellbeing. Filled with sugar and artificial flavours, these soft drinks can ruin teeth and lead to various problems including weight gain and diabetes.
While they are preferable to drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, regularly loading up on fizzy drinks on a night out can add inches waistline and be very bad for your physical health in the long term.
Our consumption of soft drinks has more than doubled since 1985, from ten gallons per year to more than 25 gallons, which is a shocking figure given that drinks like Coke contain 35g of sugar in a 330ml can – so drinking just half a can exceeds the recommended daily sugar guidelines. While the average can contains only 139 calories, it's the amount of added sugar that is the real problem.
Studies show that consuming soft drinks is linked to obesity, elevated blood pressure, kidney damage, certain cancers and may even increase the risk of stroke. Researchers from The University of Miami found that there was a 48% increase in heart attacks and strokes amongst those who drank fizzy drinks daily, compared to those who didn't. This doesn't necessarily prove the connection but it does imply it's a risk factor, especially when combined with poor diet and lack of exercise.
Fizzy drinks can be addictive. The high levels of sugar may provide a spike in energy but sugar can feed bad bacteria in the mouth, exposing the dental enamel to damaging acids that can cause erosion. Consuming sugary foods or drinks can leave the teeth open to attack for around an hour, so the more sugar you have, the more risk to your teeth.
A report by the Academy of General Dentistry found that fizzy drinks are as 'bad' for teeth as taking crack cocaine and meth. Both diet and regular fizzy drinks caused these problems and increase the risk of tooth decay due to reducing the amount of saliva in the mouth, providing less opportunity for the acids to be washed away.
Soft drinks have been linked to the increase in Type 2 diabetes across the population and a European study analyzing the relationship found that "For every additional regular can-sized sugar-sweetened drink per day, there was an 18% risk of developing the disease". Consuming sugary drinks can cause weight gain and may lead to Type 2 diabetes. Fizzy drinks also cause rapid spikes in blood glucose levels, triggering the release of insulin, which regulates blood sugar.
Fizzy drinks can be addictive but it's possible to kick the habit. Invest in a blender and try preparing your own fresh fruit juices or smoothies. Alternatively, green tea or coffee can give you a much needed caffeine boost and both are good sources of antioxidants that may provide various protective health benefits. If you're on a night out, try drinking flavoured lemon or lime water, or adding some tonic water to sugar-free squash.