WHAT WE DRINK MATTERS By Harold Goldstein, DrPH
There’s an old adage that says we all need eight glasses of fluid each day to stay healthy and hydrated. It’s a pretty easy rule of thumb. What we don’t always hear is the importance of what we choose to quench our thirst. Far too many people are drinking water that’s loaded with sugar— better known as sodas, sports drinks, flavored waters, sweet teas, and energy drinks. The average American drinks 9 teaspoons of added sugar a day, adding up to 30 pounds of sugar a year. That’s far more than the American Heart Association’s recommended total limit of no more than 5 teaspoons of added sugar a day. What does all that liquid sugar do to our bodies? It’s bad, very bad, leading to type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, and fatty liver disease. Drinking one or two bottles of sugar-sweetened beverages a day increases the risk for getting diabetes by almost 30%—and triples the risk of dying from a heart attack; after six months, daily consumption of these sugary beverages increases liver fat by almost 150%.
"What does liquid sugar do to our bodies? It leads to type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, and fatty liver disease." Pure, fresh-tasting water is calorie free, provides the hydration that our bodies need, and can even save money. Water is also an essential tool for maintaining body temperature and healthy digestion, cushioning our joints, and protecting our internal organs. Water has even been proven to be a better option than sports drinks to support physical activity in most cases. Without a doubt, water is the easy choice—and the best choice—for good health. As a public health advocate, I encourage people to drink water in whatever form that is most convenient and cost-effective for them. Drinking safe, healthy, refreshing water is infinitely healthier than drinking water that’s been loaded with sugar.
Harold Goldstein, DrPH, is the executive director of Public Health Advocates, a California-based nonprofit advocacy organization working to improve health and turn the tide on the nation’s obesity and diabetes epidemics.
And those slick ads published by soda companies seem to say that drinking soda is like opening happiness? They forget to tell you that if you drink all that sugar long enough, you will also have to start buying vials of insulin to treat your newly developed diabetes. Luckily, a new trend is starting to gain traction. Healthy hydration—with bottled water leading the charge—is helping to make our eight daily beverage servings work for our health, not against it. JAN/FEB 2017