We already knew soda wasn’t good for us, but we didn’t have evidence of it accelerating DNA damage…until now.
A new study by researchers at UCSF (University of California San Francisco) found that people who drink at least 20 oz of sugary soda per day have DNA damage comparable to cigarette smoking. In fact, based on their DNA, they appear to be about 4 1/2 years older than they really are.
Sugar May Shorten Your Telomeres…which is NOT Good!
Telomeres are essentially a type of protective DNA. Past research has found that telomeres shorten as we age and in the presence of diseases like diabetes, heart disease, etc. In other words, you want long telomeres, NOT short ones!
Well, if it’s long telomeres (and long life) you want, then you evidently shouldn’t drink much soda!
Subjects in this study who reported drinking at least 20 oz of sugary soda per day had shorter telomeres than their non-soda-drinking counterparts. Researchers didn’t find the same with diet soda drinkers. So it’s apparently the sugar that’s the DNA-damaging culprit.
Here’s what lead researcher, Elissa Epel, had to say:
“Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened sodas might influence disease development, not only by straining the body’s metabolic control of sugars, but also through accelerated cellular aging of tissues.”
What You Should Know….and Do
My recommendation is to avoid drinking your calories. In other words, only drink beverages that have no calories – water, green tea, and coffee, for example, like I wrote about in Set Your Metabolism on Fire. (Liquid meals like protein shakes or beverages you’ve ‘juiced’ don’t count in my don’t-drink-your-calories rule, btw.)
If you don’t drink soda, don’t think for a minute that it’s ok to drink other sugary beverages. I’m quite certain the deleterious effects of any sugar-laden drink would be pretty much the same.
Make sure to read the nutrition value and the ingredients on anything you drink…it’ll do your DNA good. :)
Your friend in fitness,