Unless it’s water, if it comes packaged it’s probably full of sugar. Why do some of us reach for sugary drinks while others prefer to sip on home-brewed coffee or sparkling water?

friendships help manage sugar intakeAn interesting study has emerged from the Norwegian Ministry of Health, Education, and Research, that feelings of loneliness and social isolation cause more women than men to consume sugary drinks.

Their findings based on the Social Baseline Theory, which proposes that close friendships, or relationships help people manage their intake of sugar.

However, when a person is on his or her own without a significant other or close friend they tend to use more demands of their metabolic resources to solve problems, protect themselves, and control their emotions.

The data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort found that women in the early stages of pregnancy had a greater consumption of sugary drinks than women in general – if they were dissatisfied with their martial relationship, felt lonely, or did not have productive work relationships.

It seems perceived that loneliness creates a craving for sugary drinks, while relationship satisfaction had the opposite effect.

Being in a supportive relationship, having close friendships, and even bonding with co-workers reduced the desire for sugary drinks. These three factors outweighed other lifestyle factors such as weight related self-image, depression, physical activity, and education, age, and income levels.

The Deadly Hidden Dangers of Sugary Drinks

I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that sugary drinks are linked to weight gain, but did you know that…over 180,000 worldwide deaths including 25,000 Americans were linked to consumption of sugary sweetened drinks?

New Harvard School of Public Health found that of these worldwide deaths all were obesity related and 133,000 were from diabetes, 44,000 from cardiovascular diseases, and 6,000 deaths resulted from cancer…all linked back to sugar-sweetened beverages.

hidden_sugars_in_drinksMexico had the highest reported deaths, the United States was third, and Japan had the fewest deaths.

Older women who drink soda and other sugary drinks may even be at higher risk for endometrial cancer, according the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI). They discovered that women who drank the largest amounts of sweetened beverages had a 78 percent higher risk for estrogen-linked cancer.

It’s easy to forget about the sugar in drinks. American men routinely drink up to 550 calories a day in sugary beverages.

Remember the maxim, if it’s packaged it probably contains sugar.

Sugar is added to drinks for only one reason. To make them taste better and make you drink more of it.   Sugar is often cleverly disguised by outwardly innocent names.

The Other Names of Sugar

  • Corn sweetener, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), golden syrup, sorghum syrup, barley malt, carob syrup
  • Dextrose, fructose, glucose, sucrose, lactose, mannitol
  • Honey, agave, raw sugar, brown sugar, invert sugar, demerara, muscovado, turbinado, dehydrated cane juice, maple sugar, date sugar, beet sugar, castor sugar, molasses, treacle
  • Diastatic malt, diatase, maltose, dextran, ethyl maltol, panocha

Sugar is one of the most addictive substances on the planet and the body processes sugar as it would any other opiate (alcohol, nicotine, and heroin). Sugar triggers the addiction center of your brain to release the feel-good chemical dopamine.

When you drink more sugar, you want more sugar. In this way sugar behaves a little bit like a drug – it sparks a rewarding feeling.

Sugar Free Drinks Your Body Loves (No Artificial Sweeteners Here!):

  • Black coffee with a splash of cream – yes, coffee…it’s loaded with antioxidants, can even help prevent Parkinson’s disease and the aroma from coffee relaxes brain proteins that are tied to stress sensors.
  • Highly scented teas or flavored infusions such as jasmine, fresh rosemary, lemon, black currant, or ginger, these can provide a comforting feeling that over time can replace sugary drinks.
  • Fruit infused waters – These hydrating antioxidant packed waters are nourishing and a great alternative to sport drinks. Discover 10 fruit infused water recipes here.

So keep these reasons in mind the next time you reach for a sugary drink…Why not phone a friend and brew yourself a delicious pot of tea instead?

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