Thursday, June 28, 2007

Coke for breakfast?

I spend a lot of time asking people about their personal health habits, and this one always astounds me. Lots of people drink coffee in the morning, and, fortunately, coffee has been cleared of such awful consequences as pancreatic cancer and heart disease. Instead, recent evidence positively links its consumption with a decreased risk of diabetes, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's disease.
Some people don't like the taste of coffee, and I don't entirely trust this group. In place of it, they might start the morning with tea (that's good!) or soda. That's bad, really bad.

Wrapping their hands around a comforting, chilly can of Mountain Dew, these misguided souls get their caffeine hit along with the equivalent of 1/4 cup of sugar. Worse yet, they are setting themselves up for ATHEROGENIC DYSLIPIDEMIA.

Now there's a little something you could live without. A cholesterol profile so destructive that they couldn't just call it high cholesterol, but rather a fancy name meaning deranged blood fats that actively promote atherogenesis or the birth of nasty, cholesterol-rich deposits on the blood vessel walls.

Atherogenic dyslipidemia is a triad of bad actors: high triglycerides, low HDL-cholesterol, and small, dense particles of LDL-cholesterol. While labs do not routinely measure the size of your LDL particles, if you've got the first two, rest assured you've got destructive little LDL particles. (for an explanation of LDL particle size, see Bullets to Beach Balls.

The trouble with soda and many other sweetened drinks is fructose, a corn syrup derived sugar. It's sweeeter and less expensive than sucrose making it an attractive additive to popular drinks. And overweight persons experimentally persuaded to drink a lot of fructose-sweetened drinks took their normal cholesterol profiles to atherogenic dyslipidemia within two weeks of having their way with all that free soda.

Atherogenic dyslipidemia not only raises risk of heart disease, it also promotes central obesity (wearing your weight front and center like an unwanted late life pregnancy), the metabolic syndrome, and diabetes.

I find myself urging patients to drop the pop and brew some coffee instead for their first drink du jour.

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