Not all fat is created equal, and a new study shows that sugar-sweetened drinks cause the worst kind of fat to build up in your body.
There’s no healthy perspective that says sugar-sweetened beverages are good for your metabolism. The core ingredient for sports drinks, sugary sodas, and lemonade is so sweet that it can cause diabetes, obesity, heart disease and other metabolic complications.
According to a study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, there is strong evidence that sugared drinks have a terrible long-term effect of leading to the dangerous accumulation of visceral fat.
Unlike other types of fat that just build underneath the skin, visceral fat is found deep within organs, embedded in the pancreas, liver, and the intestines.
It also tends to be metabolically active, namely, it releases substances that can interfere with the body’s ability to break down sugar from food and turn it in energy. Visceral fat also contributes to the production of cholesterol in the liver.
Even though prior studies have connected sugary beverages with visceral fat, the current study is the first to base its conclusions on tracking changes in visceral fat over six years in more than 1,000 people.
Caroline Fox of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and her colleagues found that the higher the amount of sugared beverages consumption, the higher the increase in visceral fat over time.
Researchers discovered that one drinking one sugar-sweetened drink a day was equal to a 27% increase in visceral fat levels, compared to people who abstained from all sweetened beverages.
It was also noted that visceral fat is biologically more likely to cause health complications. Drinking sweet concoctions on the regular led to lower quality fat, which in turn is linked to insulin resistance, a contributor to diabetes, and other metabolic abnormalities.
Participants in the study were not asked about their intake of 100% fruit juice, however. Even though the updated 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans considers 100% fruit juice as equivalent to fruit, nutritionists continue to agree that fruit is superior thanks to its beneficial content of nutrients and fiber.
At the same time, the people were not inquired about their rates of diabetes or heart disease, so as to see if their increases in visceral fat would lead to health issues. However, there is a growing body of research that links visceral fat to chronic health problems.
The study is consistent with previous findings and public health messages that encourage people to be more mindful of the amount of sugar-sweetened beverages they drink.
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