Are Sugar-Free Drinks More Detrimental to the Body?
The intake of sugar-free drinks is on the increase with regards to global consumer preference campaigns, within the beverages industry (Herron, 2015). Many people especially the youth have resorted to sugar free drinks to replace normal soda. They imagine that since sugar free-drinks contain fewer calories than the ordinary soft drinks, then they are healthier and safer for consumption. These drinks are made using some categories of sugar substitutes like artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols, novel sweeteners and natural sweeteners (Goran, Tappy & Le, 2014). Most people especially diabetics prefer these sugar free drinks because of the opinion by taking them they are preventing themselves from the adverse effects of sugar on their health. In fact, they imagine that by using sugar-free drinks they are preventing themselves from having excess sugar in the body. What they don’t understand is that they could be causing more harm than good to their bodies by sticking to these sugar-free drinks. It is true that these drinks actually reduce the sugar levels in the body, which might be a good thing, though in the long run they could lead to some serious health problems.
Many people imagine that since sugar free drinks contain fewer calories it automatically leads to wait loss. Therefore, they totally shift to sugar free drinks with the aim of reducing their weight, while enjoying some variation of their favourite drinks. This is a great misconception. Real sugar allows the body to acknowledge that it has received enough calories. On the other hand, the calories contained in sugar free drinks trigger biological responses to keep the overall energy consumption constant. The body remains in dire need for the calories and the person ends up feeling hungry all the time. This results into an increase in appetite, and increase carbohydrate craving (American Dietetic Association, 2004). This could easily translate to a habit of overeating. People drinking them have a habit of indulging in foods like fries and cakes. Consequently, sugar free drinks are always accompanied with the consumption of many unhealthy foods. Sugar free drinks also make the taste buds more sensitive. They overwhelm the taste buds with a feeling of sweetness.
Sugar free drinks have an effect of triggering the insulin production by the pancreas. However, in this case they cause a decline in insulin sensitivity which is contrary to expected metabolic functional capacity (Herron, 2015). More insulin in the body increases the storage of fats. This in turn leads to increase in weight and under extreme cases it causes obesity.
When used for a short time or infrequently, sugar free drinks do not have any adverse effects. Therefore, people are usually misdirected and gradually increase their intake of these drinks. Sugar-free drinks increase the chances of contracting diseases such as cancer and type-two diabetes. Despite being sugar-free, most of these drinks possess more chemical additives to sustain their relevance in relation to consumer preference. Some artificial ingredients such as aspartame, saccharin, sucaralose and acesulfame potassium that are used in the manufacture of sugar free carbonated drinks cause cancer and thyroid problems (Thompson & Carpender, 2016). They can cause pancreatic cancer, breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men. In the case of type-two diabetes, the body cells are unable to make proper use of insulin hence causing insulin resistance.
The popular agricultural practices in crop farming have embraced genetic modification as a means of increased productivity. Therefore, most of the crops used to make sugar free drinks are genetically modified to produce some natural form of pesticides or resist harmful pests (Thompson & Carpender, 2016). This modification of genes causes the plant to respond by producing more toxins. The plants that humans consume contain low toxic levels which have insignificant or no effect on their health. High levels of toxicity in the body caused by the sugar free drinks made by these genetically modified plants could damage the liver in the long run.
Sugar free drinks are associated with a lot of headaches and depression. The chemicals that make up the artificial sweetener ‘aspartame’ may alter brain chemicals and nerve signals. The prolonged effect of the same leads to headaches, anxiety and insomnia. They cause metabolic syndrome which is characterised by a cluster of conditions such as increased blood pressure, a high blood sugar level, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels (Herron, 2015). All these conditions of the metabolic syndrome increase the risk of stroke and can lead to a heart attack. They also lower bone mineral density in the hips of females and also cause teeth problems. This is because they contain phosphoric acid which corrodes the tooth enamel and promotes tooth decay (Herron, 2015). The calcium released from bones into the bloodstream to replace losses, may weaken the bones over time. Under extreme cases, the chemicals can result to liver damage.
Sugar free drinks have no nutritional value. Most people tend to replace water with these drinks. However, water is essential for a lot of processes taking place in the body beyond the capabilities of sugar-free drinks. In fact, using sugar free carbonated drinks such as diet soda has a serious effect of getting people drunk faster especially when mixed with cocktails. This is because the bloodstream is able to absorb artificial sweetener more quickly than regular sugar (Herron, 2015). When mixed with alcohol, the stomach empties out faster than if regular soda was used.
In conclusion the frequent consumption of sugar free drinks is just as bad as high intake of normal sugar. The most effective way of combating these affects that occur due to intake of these sugar-free foods is by totally avoiding them. This would lead to a decrease in many health effects by strengthening of the bones and decreasing the risk of fat storage and getting diabetes. It could also improve the functioning of the kidney and the rate of weight gain reduces considerably. The dangers of regular sugars are known and also, methods of regulating the excess regular sugars are simple (O’Brien-Nabors, 2016). The most common is exercising which increases the metabolic rate for excretion or energy production. Therefore, it is better to maintain regular sugars and exercise rather than switch to sugar-free drinks then hope for little accumulation of additional chemicals/additives.
American Dietetic Association. (2004). Position of the American Dietetic Association: Use of nutritive and non-nutritive sweeteners. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 104 (2), 255-275.
Goran, M., Tappy, L. & Le, K. (2014). Dietary Sugars and Health. Florida: CRC Press.
Herron, J. (2015). The Gut Health Protocol: A Nutritional Approach to Healing SIBO, Intestinal Candida, GERD, Gastritis, and other Gut Health Issues. New York: Eagle Stock Publishing.
O’Brien-Nabors, L. (2016). Alternative Sweeteners, Fourth Edition. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 65, 737–743.
Thompson, R. & Carpender, D. (2016). The insulin resistance solution: reverse pre-diabetes, repair your metabolism, shed belly fat, prevent diabetes. Beverly, MA: Fair Winds