People with diabetes must consume soft drinks in consultation with a specialist as a way of harm reduction
Soft drinks may contain over 10% sugar content. A recently published study has indicated that drinking diet soda may increase the risk for proliferative diabetic retinopathy. This is a severe type of diabetic eye disease that can lead to blindness. The study evaluates the link between soft drink consumption and microvascular complications of diabetes. Consuming more than four cans, or 1.5 litres, of diet soft drinks per week was associated with a twofold increased risk of having proliferative diabetic retinopathy.
Traditional soft drinks today have over 10% sugar and sweets have 30% to 50% sugar. Any sweet has minimum of 30% sugar but if made of chashni (concentrated sugar), the amount of sugar may be up to 50%. WHO recommends 2% of the sugar in oral rehydration solution as treatment of diarrhea and as rehydrating solution. The best way to take a soft drink to dilute it three times with water and soda and make it 2% solution which in a lemonade drink makes it like the ORS.
Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “White sugar is a slow poison. In our ancient Indian era, people used to consume either sugarcane juice, jagry or brown sugar (khand). There is no mention of use of refined white sugar. White sugar has high glucose index and is slow poison as over a period of time, it can lead to high levels of insulin in the blood and subsequently, insulin resistance. The best way out is harm reduction, especially for those who do not wish to stop the consumption of soft drinks but have diabetes. Such people should ensure that they consult their GP or a specialist to understand how much of soft drinks or what quantity is fine for consumption.”
Diet soft drinks have been marketed as a healthier option to regular soft drinks, yet a growing body of evidence has suggested that artificial sweeteners may also have detrimental health effects.
Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Liquid sugars, which are found in soft drinks, sports drinks, iced teas, and sweetened waters, have no benefits for health and are clearly linked to higher risk of obesity, diabetes, and perhaps heart disease. There is no reason to include these in your diet. Skip the sugary drinks and have some unsweetened tea or sparkling water instead.”
Some tips from HCFI
- Maintain a healthy weight by exercising every day and consuming a healthy diet.
- Get your blood glucose levels monitored at regular intervals.
- Do not consume refined sugar in any form as this can get absorbed into the blood stream more easily and cause further complications.
- Reduce stress through activities such as meditation and yoga.