Sugary drinks & dangerous fat
Drinking beverages that have been sweetened with refined sugar appears to be associated with the dangerous type of fat that accumulates around the major organs of the abdomen, known as visceral fat.
A US study of a thousand participants, of roughly equal male and female, underwent CT scans to look at body fat changes over a six-year period. The results found that the more sugary drinks were consumed, the higher the amount of this visceral fat was found in the abdomen. It is currently unknown what the biological mechanisms behind this are, but the association appears quite strong.
Visceral fat around the abdomen increases the risk of coronary artery disease, diabetes, and some cancers. Sugar can be found in many types of drinks, even those that appear to be healthy.
What about diet drinks, sweetened with artificial sweeteners? Well, some studies show that the sweeteners in drinks could still lead to obesity and other health issues. It’s possible that these compounds interfere with the natural bacteria in our guts, typically those that protect us from obesity and diabetes. These chemicals are many times sweeter than sugar, and its possible that the very sweet taste might drive our behaviour to seek sweet foods elsewhere too. So even artificial sweeteners may not be helping the cause.
Alpha Galileo News Release: http://www.alphagalileo.org/ViewItem.aspx?ItemId=159812&CultureCode=en
Sugar Nutrition UK: http://www.sugarnutrition.org.uk
Paper – Bokulich & Blaser (2014) A bitter aftertaste: unintended effects of artificial sweeteners on gut microbiome.doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2014.10.012
Seb is a writer and blogger of food and nutrition. He holds a bachelors and a masters degree in nutrition science, and has studied sports and exercise nutrition at postgraduate level. He specialises in plant-based nutrition and believes passionately that we can all live with a little less meat.