Cut Down on Your Soft Drink Consumption

If you’re a regular drinker of sodas, fruit juices, and sweet sports drinks, you’re not improving your health.  These drinks contain a lot of sugar, which adds calories to your diet. Sugary drinks also raise insulin levels.  This causes you to put on more visceral fat; fat deep inside, around the stomach and other organs. Too much visceral fat can raise certain blood proteins, and that can lead to metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions — increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels, occurring in combination, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.  Having just one of these conditions doesn’t mean you have metabolic syndrome. However, any of these conditions increase your risk of serious disease. Having more than one of these might increase your risk even more.

When insulin is high after a sugary drink, it may increase hunger.  That hunger may lead to overeating. You might even reach for another soda, thus continuing the cycle.  Even diet soda can be a problem. Studies have shown that drinking diet soda on a regular basis can actually lead to weight gain.  The exact reason is still unknown. It might be that diet soda triggers the insulin response. Or, it might be that people tend to drink diet soda along with sugary foods that have this effect.

Try to stop drinking or drink less of both regular and diet soft drinks. If you drink soda, pair it with raw fruits and vegetables or nuts.  The fiber in these foods can help control the insulin response. Make use of the nutrition labels on foods that will identify grams of added sugar in drinks and other foods.  This will help you to choose healthier alternatives. If you’re trying to curb a soda habit, try mixing a little fruit juice with seltzer water as a replacement. And of course, drinking water remains the best form of hydration.

Board certified and fellowship trained General Surgeon Karl Strom, M.D., FACS, is medical director of the Center for Bariatric Surgery at Hackensack Meridian Health Raritan Bay Medical Center-Perth Amboy. The center assists patients in attaining a healthier lifestyle, through a comprehensive and individualized plan of care, including safe and effective weight-loss surgery options. For more information attend a free seminar, upcoming dates include July 10 and 26, and August 7 and 23, 6:00 p.m., in Perth Amboy and Woodbridge, NJ.  Call 1-800-560-9990 to register, or for a complete schedule of seminars.

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