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Soda, lunch meats linked to serious diseases

March 5, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
The average American drinks about 50 gallons of soda and other sweetened beverages each year. And drinking all those sugary beverages may be responsible for the spike in new cases of diabetes and heart disease. But that's not the only type of food doctors say is causing heart disease. New research may explain the cascade of health problems.Regular sodas, sports drinks and fruit punch have as many as 200 calories per serving which is leading directly to the nation's obesity problem.

"Because somehow when you drink sugar beverages, your body does not register that you're consuming calories so you increase your amount of calories," said internist John DeBeixedon. "So for a normal person that's 17-percent more calories is about 425 calories a day."

A new UC San Francisco analysis finds excess consumption of soft drinks led to 130,000 cases of diabetes and 14,000 cases of heart disease between 1990 and 2000.

Dr. DeBeixedon suggests people should lay off sugary drinks one step at a time.

"If you went from sugared drinks to diet drinks, then have the person alternate the diet drink with a glass of water," said Dr. DeBeixedon. "So if they had a diet drink they would have to drink two glasses of water."

In another study, researchers found that processed meats like salami, bacon and luncheon meats are associated with a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes.

"A processed slice of ham has twice as much fat and 20 times as much salt as the same amount of pork loin," said Dr. DeBeixedon.

This does not mean that the risk is associated with red meat, though -- just processed meat.

Dr. DeBeixedon says nitrates in processed meats are converted into nitrosamines which may cause cancer.

"With all of those incredibly convenient processed meats there's a correlation now between esophogeal cancer, colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer and even lung cancer," said Dr. DeBeixedon.

So for your next sandwich, Dr. DeBeixedon advises to stick with wholesome, fresher deli meats.

Dr. DeBeixedon says most sandwiches are unhealthy anyway because of over processed bread, cheese and mayonnaise. He recommends sticking with fresh fruits, veggies, lean meats, poultry and fish.