Taking sugared drinks in any form increases risk for heart attacks, but exercise may offset some of the damage.
• 106,178 California teachers, average age 52, with no history of heart disease, stroke, or diabetes, were followed for 20 years. Those who drank one or more sugared beverages per day suffered a 20 percent increase risk in developing heart disease, compared to the women who either didn’t drink or rarely drank sugary beverages (J American Heart Association, May 13, 2020;0:e014883).
• Another study showed that taking one drink averaging 75 grams of sugar, three times a day, for one week prevented blood vessels from widening as they normally do, a major risk factor for heart attacks. Then the people were told to continue taking one sugared drink three times a day and to exercise at a moderate intensity for 45 minutes for five days. Their blood vessels returned to their normal ability to widen and bring more oxygen to their bodies (American J Of Physiology, May 13, 2020).
Many studies show that exercise increases blood flow in people who have even severe blockage of their arteries leading to significant heart disease. For example, 200 patients with significant heart damage from blocked arteries started a rehabilitation program of either aerobic interval training or continuous aerobic training on a bicycle. After 12 weeks, both groups gained a significant and equal improvement in the ability of their arteries to widen and bring more oxygen-rich blood to their bodies (J American Heart Association, (Dec 1, 2015;309(11):H1876-H1882).
How Can Sugared Drinks Damage your Heart?
A sugared drink causes a much higher rise in blood sugar than the same amount of sugar in a cookie. Almost no solid food is allowed to pass from your stomach into your intestines. If it did, it could block your intestines. When you eat solid food, your pyloric sphincter muscle at the end of your stomach closes and your stomach contracts to turn food into a liquid soup that is then squeezed in short bursts into your intestines. Sugared drinks cause an almost immediate high rise in blood sugar, while solid foods can take up to five hours to pass from your stomach.
A high rise in blood sugar causes sugar to stick to the outer membranes of cells throughout your body and destroy them, which can:
• cause plaques to form in arteries
• cause irregular heartbeats
• prevent blood vessels from widening when you need more oxygen
• cause plaques to break off, which can lead to a heart attack
• lead to heart failure from damaged heart muscle
Sugared drinks are associated with marked increased risk for:
• obesity and belly fat (JAMA, 2004;292:927-934)
• diabetes (Brit J Nutr, 219;110:1722-1731)
• high blood pressure (Brit J Nutr, 2015;113:709-717)
• heart attacks and strokes (Am J Clin Nutr, 2012;96:1390-1397)
Sugared drinks are the nutritional component that is perhaps most likely to cause disease and shorten your life. Exercise helps prevent and treat heart disease whether or not you take sugar drinks. The safest drink is water, and coffee and tea with nothing added look pretty safe also. See Drink Water Instead of Sweetened Drinks