Fizzy drinks (soda or pop, whatever you want to call them), have been in the news a lot lately thanks to an infographic from UK pharmacist Niraj Naik detailing what happens in your body within an hour of drinking a can of Coke.
The Dieticians Association of Australia (DAA) suggests that the average adult should consume no more than 90 grams of sugar per day, which equates to roughly two cans of your average fizzy drink. This suggestion is actually higher than in other places such as the American Heart Foundation, which suggests men only consume 36 grams per day, and just 24 for women. That doesn’t leave much room for the sugar that often comes with your morning cereal, your coffee, or that 3pm biscuit in the afternoon.
So while we all know we need to aim to keep our sugar intake at a low, healthy level, we’re not always exactly sure what it is that happens when you don’t quite manage it.
According to Mr Naik’s infographic, one of the first things your body does after ingesting 10 teaspoons of sugar in one go is to pump up your insulin levels, which in turn causes your liver to take all that sugar and turn it into fat.
After 40 minutes, the effects of the caffeine hit set in, which keeps you from feeling drowsy but also increases your blood pressure, which makes your liver put more sugar into your bloodstream.
After an hour, the phosphoric acid in the drink binds nutrients such as calcium, magnesium and zinc in your lower intestine. Before these nutrients can do their good work in your body, the diuretic properties of the caffeine will make you need to go to the bathroom and, therefore, flush them out.
Finally, you’ll experience the sugar crash that’s usually only visible in small children in the form of tantrums and crying, but is no less real in an adult (only it’s not the done thing to throw a tantrum in public).
Celebrity chef and health food advocate Jamie Oliver has a thing or two to say about this disastrous impact of fizzy drink on our health. The father of four is a powerful voice in this debate, and has a particular focus on improving childrens’ health. His suggestion has been to introduce a small levy on cans of fizzy in a bid to start decreasing its popularity, as he compares the health risk of sugar in the UK to that of cigarettes.
So what about diet fizzy?
Unfortunately, diet fizzy drinks are often just as bad as the regular forms.
The Renegade Pharmacist – Niraj Naik – tackled the subject in a second infographic using Diet Coke as an example. In the same way that artificial sweeteners make you feel like you’re enjoying a sugary drink, they can make your body think so, too – which causes it to produce insulin and therefore switch to fat storing mode once again.
Even non-fizzy drinks such as juices, sports drinks and flavoured water can hold high levels of sugar, so your best bet is to either consume these treats on a very rare basis or simply stick to good old fashioned water!