You’re out at lunch with colleagues, friends or family. You scan the menu from front to back and find a healthy option because you’re trying to lose weight and keep those sugar levels stable. The waiter asks if she can take your drink order and without any hesitation, you ask for a sugar sweetened beverage (SSB) such as a coke or 100% fruit juice. Did you know that you’re about to consume anything from 5 up to 9 teaspoons of sugar in just one serving? Foods are most often a focus when it comes to diabetes, however, the beverages you drink can also have a major effect on your weight and blood glucose control1.


Despite the cold, fizzy sensation they create in your mouth, sodas offer no nutritional benefits. Sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) include soft drinks, fruit drinks, iced teas and sport drinks. They are a concentrated and energy-dense form of dietary sugars that are easily consumed in large amounts1. Let’s take a closer look at why you should ‘rethink your drink’.

Sugar sweetened beverages and diabetes

Obesity is one of the top 5 risk factors for early death in South Africa2. Almost 70% of women and 40% of men in the country are either overweight or obese2. This is not only limited to adults, ‘1 in 4 girls and 1 in 5 boys between the ages of 2 and 14 years are overweight or obese’2. Studies link a high intake of sodas, with increased energy intake and weight gain, which is mainly due to their high sugar content3.

In a study where 91249 women were followed for 8 years, those who consumed one or more servings of soft drinks per day were twice to develop diabetes over the course of the study as likely when compared to those who consumed less than one serving per month4. The intake of SSBs increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes as a result of obesity as well as an increased dietary glycaemic load which causes your blood glucose levels to spike shortly after consumption1,3.

In those with diabetes, frequent intake of SSBs can result in uncontrolled blood glucose. This can result in a variety of conditions such as heart disease, eye and vision problems, neuropathy and kidney disease4.

Cutting carbs but sodas do the harm

Often people make bad choices when selecting their carbohydrates, choosing refined carbohydrates over those that are high in fibre, low GI and unrefined. Portion sizes are commonly also too big. You may hear people talking about ‘cutting back on the carbs’ to lose weight or control blood glucose levels. But people tend to forget that the sugar found in SSBs is also a form of carbohydrate. Below is a link showing the breakdown of the number of teaspoons of sugar in some of the most popular drinks available on the market7.
If you have diabetes it is important to calculate the carbohydrates you are eating by bringing it back to carbohydrate exchanges. One carbohydrate exchange contains 15 g of carbohydrates. This equates to 1 slice of bread OR ½ cup of cooked pasta, rice OR oats OR 1 tennis ball sized fruit OR 3 teaspoons of sugar. If you’re ordering a grilled chicken salad with a soda or flavoured water for lunch you could be consuming the equivalent of up to 3 slices of bread with your meal and be none the wiser.

The World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines recommend that ‘adults and children reduce their daily intake of free sugars to less than 10% of their total energy intake8. A further reduction to below 5% or roughly 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day would provide additional health benefits8. Free sugars refer to monosaccharides such as glucose, fructose as well as disaccharides (sucrose or table sugar) added to foods and drinks by the food manufacturer or individuals. Free sugars are also found naturally in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates8. If you consume just one can of SSB this will push you over your daily sugar limit very quickly.

Tips to replace your current preferred SSB of choice with water:

  • Unless you are concerned about the purity of the water, save money and order normal tap water when you go out.
  • If you crave that fizzy sensation in your mouth, order a sparkling water. Remember to choose plain sparkling water and avoid flavoured waters as these can contain around 6 – 7 teaspoons of sugar per bottle.
  • Give your water a natural flavour instead by adding slices of your favourite fruit and/or herbs and refrigerating overnight e.g. lemon, mint and strawberries.
  • Carry a water bottle with you wherever you go. This will ensure that you increase your fluid intake and avoid the temptation of buying a soda when you are thirsty.
  • Craving something sweet? Freeze clementine pieces or berries and use these as ice cubes. Sweet cravings can also be a sign of dehydration, so make sure that you are consuming sufficient amounts of water throughout the day.
  • If you are tired of water try your favourite unsweetened herbal tea such as rooibos, peppermint, green or camomile.
  • Sugar free or artificially sweetened beverages are also an option but be wary as they are acidic, contain phosphate and are thought to affect your gut microbiota.
  • Look for milk based drinks that don’t have as much added sugar or ones that are unsweetened or better yet just drink milk. But remember milk also contains carbohydrates and needs to be counted into your carbohydrate total for the meal and the whole day!.

Where does FUTURELIFE fit in?

Looking for a low GI, complete balanced drink? Look no further. We’ve combined the goodness of dairy with the greatness of FUTURELIFE® to bring you FUTURELIFE® Smart Drink™.

We compared the sugar content of FUTURELIFE® Smart Drink™ to different drinks. As seen below, we are proud to boast that FUTURELIFE® Smart Drink™ contains the least amount of naturally occurring and added sugar. This makes it an ideal beverage choice that can be enjoyed as a meal or snack throughout the day.

  • Contains 50 essential nutrients.
  • Free from most common occurring allergens.
  • Contains a combination of carbohydrates and protein that can be ideally used as a post training recovery drink after endurance or strength training.
  • Source of electrolytes.
  • Available in 3 flavours: Milky Chocolate, Strawberry & Banana Vanilla Caramel.


  1. South African Family Practice (2011) Current opinion: Is added dietary sugar detrimental to health? Available at: Accessed July 2017
  2. South African Department of health. (2015) Strategy for the Prevention and Control of obesity in South Africa 2015 – 2020. Available at: (Accessed July 2017)
  3. PubMed (2007). Effects of Soft Drink Consumption on Nutrition and Health: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Available at: (Accessed July 2017)
  4. Everyday Health (2016). What It’s Like to Have Uncontrolled Type 2 Diabetes. Available at: (Accessed October 2017)
  5. Harvard school of public health. Soft Drinks and Disease. Available at: (Accessed July 2017)
  6. NCIB (2008). Soft drinks, fructose consumption, and the risk of gout in men: prospective cohort study. Available at: July 2017)
  7. Graphics 24 (2015). The high sugar content of our cooldrinks. Available at: (Accessed October 2017).
  8. World Health Organisation (2016). WHO calls on countries to reduce sugars intake among adults and children Available at: (Accessed October 2017)