Getting Older? Skip the Soda in the Era of COVID-19

It should come as no surprise that middle-aged and older adults who drink sugary beverages daily are at greater risk of developing abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels compared to those who rarely drink those beverages. At least, this is according to a new epidemiological study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. We’ve known this for decades. (Do we really need to be studying this in 2020?)

The study, led by a research team at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts, found that adults who drank at least 1 sugary beverage daily had a 98% higher chance of developing low HDL cholesterol and a 53% higher chance of developing high triglycerides, when compared to the group who seldom or never consumed sugary drinks. The scientists also observed similar results when they examined long-term intakes of sugary beverages during a follow-up time of about 12 years. 

Please note, sugary drinks include soda, fruit juices (i.e., orange juice, lemonade, fruit punch), sports drinks (i.e. Gatorade), fruit-flavored or powdered drinks (ie. flavored protein powders), flavored or plain milk products (i.e., strawberry or chocolate milk), energy drinks, vitamin-enhanced drinks and water, sweetened tea, coffee, and alcohol. It basically means any beverage other than plain water and freshly made vegetable juice/smoothies. 

The “it's only one drink per day” mentality is dangerous to human health, especially in the era of COVID-19. It has quickly led to a weaker immune system for Americans of all ages and high probability of getting infected with COVID-19.  

For many people, one more coffee or soda refill is causing this worldwide phenomenon. Left unchecked with a growing pandemic in the background, we are asking for trouble.

I’ve touched on both topics in past columns, particularly on the role of diet quality and immune response, linked for your reference:

Immune Boosters to Fight Colds and Flu

Boosting the Immune System in Pediatrics

Drugs & Immune System Support: What We Know and What We Don’t


It is painfully clear that having any consumption of a sugary drink on a daily basis is causing damaging health impacts for all ages. Avoidance or sparing consumption is highly recommended in order to sustain health. 

Embarking on our fourth month of social distancing restrictions, we now know for certain who is more likely to become infected and die from COVID-19. Due to the complexity of immunity and inflammation, these life-saving topics are not adequately brought up in the doctor’s office, even though we have known since the 1980s the problems they cause. Why has nothing changed? And why do we keep researching the same thing every decade?

One thing is for certain: We are better off quenching our thirst with water. Long-term consumption of diet soda on health is not inconclusive, even though so many health experts say that there is not enough information yet. They typically cite 100% fruit juice, coffee, alcohol, milk products, diet soda, sweetened  teas, energy drinks, flavored water and other beverages, are common replacements for sugar-sweetened beverages and claim to have no consistent associations with adverse changes in cholesterol and increased risk of dyslipidemia.  

What we put in our glass and on our plate may be killing us more than we are led to believe. Have whole fruits and vegetables instead. Mix the veggies up between having them raw versus cooked. They are rich in natural sugars your body loves and can easily process. They are also critical to preventing your future infection with COVID-19.


Dr. Bhandari and the Advanced Health Team Are Here to Support Your Health.

Our expert team of integrative holistic practitioners work with patients suffering from chronic health concerns.  We take the extra step to understand the root cause and how to optimize every organ’s functioning.  By better understanding how your environment directly fits into your overall well-being, we create personalized treatment plans which drive away sickness. To learn more and book an appointment, contact Advanced Health or call 1-415-506-9393.

Payal Bhandari M.D. Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. is one of U.S.'s top leading integrative functional medical physicians and the founder of San Francisco' top ranked medical center, SF Advanced Health. Her well-experienced holistic healthcare team collaborates together to deliver whole-person personalized care and combines the best in Western and Eastern medicine. By being an expert of cell function, Dr. Bhandari defines the root cause of illness and is able to subside any disease within weeks to months. She specializes in cancer prevention and reversal, digestive & autoimmune disorders. Dr. Bhandari received her Bachelor of Arts degree in biology in 1997 and Doctor of Medicine degree in 2001 from West Virginia University. She the completed her Family Medicine residency in 2004 from the University of Massachusetts and joined a family medicine practice in 2005 which was eventually nationally recognized as San Francisco’s 1st patient-centered medical home. To learn more, go to

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