I know many people love drinking soda, especially when paired with a good burger and fries. Or you would never go near soda, but drink tons of fruit juice, because 100% of fruit juice is “better for you.”
But much like everything in life, too much of a good thing is rarely good, and that is especially true when it comes to our sweet tooth for sugary beverages, even fruit juice.
Study on Sugary Drinks and Cancer
A recent study, by BMJ found a strong link between higher intake of sugary drinks and a higher risk of overall cancer.
Here, researchers looked at the daily diets of more than 100,000 people, average age 42. They used food questionnaires to collect information on how much the people consumed from a list of 3,300 different foods and drinks.
In terms of drinks, they examined sugar-sweetened beverages like soft drinks, fruit drinks, 100 percent fruit juices without any added sugar, milk-based sugary drinks, sports drinks, and energy drinks. The researchers also looked at artificially-sweetened beverages, such as diet soda, sugar-free syrups, and diet milk-based products.
The people were then followed for up to nine years. During this time, the researchers looked at the risk of overall, breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer.
The researchers found that those who consumed the highest amounts of sugary beverages had the highest risks of overall cancer. In fact, a daily increase of just 100 milliliters (a little less than half a cup) increased the overall cancer risk by 18 percent.
But here’s what’s interesting from this study: When researchers looked only at the consumption of 100 percent fruit juices, they found a higher risk of overall cancer and breast cancer. Other research has shown a similar sugar-cancer connection. For instance, a study in the Sept. 28, 2018 issue of the British Journal of Nutrition showed that consuming sugar from sugar-sweetened beverages was associated with a higher risk of prostate cancer among almost 23,000 men.
Why are sugary drinks so bad?
The researchers in the BMJ study speculated that too much sugar affects health markers like visceral fat (fat that is stored deep in the abdominal area), blood sugar, and inflammation, all of which have been linked with higher cancer risk.
Plus, other studies have shown that a high intake of sweetened drinks increases the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
My advice: leave out sugary drinks from your diet. They are not worth it. One exception is after a hard, vigorous workout. Sometime in that situation, you crave juice.
I always recommend eating the whole fruit (or vegetable) over just drinking the juice. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with hundreds of protective phytochemicals that can help fight inflammation and free radicals linked with cancer.
This doesn’t mean that juices are entirely off-limits. Yet, when you do crave juice, always opt for freshly squeezed.
Of course, juicing can be labor-intensive and somewhat expensive, depending on the produce you use. But there are ways to add more natural health-boosting and cancer-fighting juices to your daily diet. For example:
Here’s what you can do.
Buy fresh juice. Many health food stores sell freshly squeezed organic juices. If you want to make your own invest in a good juicer. Prices can vary, but I’ve found good ones for about $300. Make sure they are easy to use and clean.
Use organic whenever possible. You should especially buy organic for the following produce: apples, celery, spinach, and cucumbers. These often have higher residues of pesticides.
Begin with more appealing vegetables. For vegetable juices, begin with more pleasant- tasting options, like celery, cucumbers, and not too many carrots (carrot juice is high in glycemic index.) Add an apple to give it some sweetness – but just one apple.
Drink now—or store for later. I like to make batches of juice. Fill a glass jar to the top and then seal with an airtight lid. (Mason jars work great.) There should be a minimum amount of air as oxygen will “oxidize” and damage the juice. Store in the refrigerator and drink within 24 hours.