Once upon a time, people thought Diet Coke was something healthy. After all, it didn’t have all that added sugar.

Of course, today, we know synthetic sweeteners cause problems of their own.

Now a new study in JAMA Open reminds that another drink many think of as healthy may not be so healthy after all.

Researchers crunched 6 years of data from 13,440 older black and white adults, focused on consumption of sugar-sweetened soft drinks and 100% fruit juice. The results were remarkable.

During the course of the study, 1000 participants died, 168 of those related to coronary heart disease (CHD). Those who drank the most sugary beverages were at higher risk of death by any cause. The risk was even a touch higher for those who drank extra servings of juice.

These findings suggest that consumption of sugary beverages, including fruit juices, is associated with all-cause mortality.

For as an invited commentary on the study noted, while

Fruit juices are still widely perceived as a healthier option than SSBs…, they often contain as much sugar and as many calories as SSBs. Although the sugar in 100% fruit juices is naturally occurring rather than added, once metabolized, the biological response is essentially the same.

Sure, there are some nutrients in fruit juice that are lacking in soft drinks, but juice remains, like them, mostly water and concentrated sugar. From a dental standpoint, there’s not much difference either. Their acidity damages tooth enamel, and their sugars feed the oral pathogens that cause decay.

glass of sparkling waterSimilarly, other “healthy” options can harm teeth, as well. While kombucha, for instance, delivers probiotics, you still have their sugars and carbonation to contend with. Even without the sugar, fizzy water – flavored or not – leans toward the acidic.

While tap water’s pH is typically between 6 and 8, the carbonating of water lowers its pH to around a 5. With flavor essences and other additions to sparkling water, the pH can go down even lower, and the lower the pH the more likely it is to be destructive to our teeth.

Simply, as we’ve noted before, if you want to enjoy such drinks, moderation is key.

But for daily hydration, nothing beats plain, clean, fluoride-free water. Too boring? Why not try infusing your water with fruit, veg, or even herbs (though you may want to steer clear of citrus and other acidic produce)? Another good option – that can even benefit your teeth and your oral microbiome – is tea.

But with the sugary, fizzy stuff? Less is definitely better.

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