A little sugar, a lot of damage
You can eat right, get regular exercise and keep a healthy weight. You can look good, feel good and even pass every mainstream measure of health.
But if you have a regular soda habit, there's a good chance you're not healthy -- because even moderate amounts of soda can have too much sugar and can increase your risk of death and disease in ways that aren't always obvious.
One new study on mice shows that millions of Americans get too much sugar each day causing very different -- and very serious -- consequences in men and women.
Male mice given sugary drinks had serious reproductive problems. They fathered fewer pups, had fewer mates, controlled less territory, and were less likely to defend the territory they did have.
In female mice, the consequences were even worse...MUCH worse: Sugar-fed mice were twice as likely to die during the 32-week study as female mice fed no sugar.
What's really concerning here is that this is not the effect of obesity, which can strike when you get too much sugar. No, the mice in this study weren't obese and weren't even overweight.
In fact, they actually ate completely healthy foods.
The one exception was the sugary drinks, which made up roughly a quarter of their calories.
That may sound like a lot, and it is. It's just too much sugar.
But that's also the same level of sugar roughly 25 percent of all Americans get each day, with most people getting all that sugar from soda.
Now, I realize this is a study on mice, and we humans are certainly not mice. But there are good reasons we do so much research on mice -- starting with the fact that 80 percent of things that are toxic to mice are also toxic to us.
I personally don't think it's a stretch to believe sugar is part of that 80 percent, especially when you consider the undeniable fact that the white stuff can cause or contribute to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, dementia, cancer and more.
Having too much sugar can even change behavior, especially in children, with another new study showing that kids who drink soda are more prone to violence.
And in adults, sugar can cause depression and other mood disorders.
It's tempting to think the answer here is to switch to diet sodas and sugar substitutes instead of real sugar.
The soda companies certainly want you to think that. Coca-Cola has even launched a new ad campaign touting the supposed safety of aspartame and the other sweeteners used in its diet soft drinks.
But don't be misled by marketing.
Science shows that aspartame can cause everything from cancer to migraines, and studies have shown that switching from regular soda to diet won't even do much to improve your health.
One study I told you about just a few months back found that just three bottles of diet soda a week can actually increase your risk of diabetes by 60 percent.
If you're thirsty, there are better, safer, healthier and tastier options than soft drinks. I recommend teas such as green tea and herbal tea as well as filtered water and seltzer, infused with fruit if you want some flavor.
And if you need a sweetener, stick to natural options such as lo han and xylitol.