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May 4, 2022

Premature Death by Sugar Consumption

Soda Consumption and Premature Death

For those of you old enough to have lived through the era of vinyl records, do you remember some of those records skipping over and over again on the same part of a song? Well, that’s how we feel sometimes talking about sugar – a broken record – and the message is always the same. Sugar is bad. And, it’s bad for a lot of reasons. Research now shows that sugar is associated with cell aging.  A study published in American Journal of Public Health showed that sugary drinks were associated with shorter telomeres. This is the first study to show that soda is associated with telomere shortness. Short telomeres mean premature death.

Short telomeres are associated with premature aging and chronic diseases like some cancers, heart disease, and diabetes. We’ve written plenty on telomeres and here’s a general article on telomeres for those of you unfamiliar with these repeating segments of DNA found at the end of our chromosomes. Basically, short telomeres are associated with chronic disease and premature aging. Inflammation (which sugar causes), stress, and oxidative tissue damage are other processes that contribute to prematue telomere shortening.

What’s Worse? Smoking or Drinking Soda?

The answer may surprise you when it comes to telomere shortening!

Daily consumption of 20 ounces of soda is associated with 4.6 years of additional biological aging – similar to the effects of smoking. Smoke and drink soda together and you can really knock some time off your biologic clock and die younger while aging faster.

Exercise is thought to slow telomere shortening by about 4.5 years. So you can undo all your exercise efforts by consuming a daily soda. How long does it take to down a soda or sugary drink? And, think of all the hours you spend working out. That should make you think twice before you have a sugary drink! Hours in the gym wasted by that Big Gulp!

So keep added sugars out of your diet in 2015!

Diet sodas were not associated with telomere shortening, but diet sodas are associated with a host of its own health problems too. See this article of ours on diet soda.

The Addiction of Sugar

Though the use of brain scans, scientists have determined that our brains light up very similar to how they do to drugs like cocaine, oxycodone, heroin, alcohol, or marijuana. All of these including sugar activate dopamine receptors in the brain. Dopamine is our reward hormone. Activating it makes us feel good – full of energy and confidence.  But, over time dopamine receptors become insensitive to the presence of dopamine when its release is triggered continuously. As the brain becomes resistant to dopamine, more and more erratic behavior can occur.

When you consume sugary foods regularly it will take consuming more sugar to elicit the feel good response. Remember, sugar is basically empty calories. The more ingest to activate dopamine the more unnecessary calories you are consuming.

How’s that for a short, sweet, but deadly article?

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Dr. Joe Jacko


Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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