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What are the risks of drinking too much milk tea?

Milk tea has been a trend these recent years, and it's only gaining popularity by the minute. With new flavors and shops popping up left and right, it's no surprise that many have developed an obsession with the fun, sugary drink.

But an episode in Reel Time shows that yes, there is such a thing as too much milk tea.

Xy-Zha Cabanlong knows first hand how painful it could be when she passes her limit.

Cabanlong, who has had acid reflux since 2006, used to be obsessed with milk tea when it first surfaced in the Philippine market.

She said she used to have one cup every day the whole week.

"Na-entice ako sa milk tea kasi masarap naman talaga, although it triggers my acid reflux," she said.

Acid reflux — the backward flow of stomach acid into the esophagus — for her is usually tolerable. She believes she has a high pain threshold that allows her ignore her acid reflux when it is triggered.

But in February, she had to go to the hospital due to a bad attack.

"Around February 29, it's the first time that I've experienced that. Hindi na ko makapagsalita, at the same time hindi na ko makahinga kasi parang may nakapatong na hollowblock sa dibdib ko," she recalled.

In the emergency room, she couldn't talk because she had no voice. Later, they told her she had  laryngitis due to acid reflux.

A doctor told her that she had to lessen her intake of milk tea, and that if possible, just avoid it completely.

"Yung sinabi ng doctors na avoid oily foods, avoid sour foods, spicy foods, OK lang sa 'kin. The moment that they said avoid chocolate, avoid milk tea, oh it's going to be a challenge," she said.

Still, Cabanlong heeded the advice and lessened her intake of milk tea. She said she knows the symptoms of an incoming attack and controls her cravings for sweets and other foods that would trigger her acid reflux. 

"Mainit at the same time, yung parang hindi mo alam kung sinuntok ka ba paulit-ulit. Pag ganun na yung nararamdaman ko, OK I have to stop," she said.

Internist Gherald Belandres said that the caffeine in milk tea is what aggravates the overproduction of acid.

"Usually ang nakakapag-trigger ng acid reflux ay basically yun yung caffeine content ng isang milk tea, na pwedeng mag-aggravate ng risk na pwedeng magkaroon ng overproduction of acid pa rin na pwedeng magcause ng gastritis o kaya reflux," he said.

If that sounds painful, it would actually have been worse — repeated backward flow of acid can lead to ulcers, or erosion in the stomach's walls.

For diabetics, there's a whole other set of risks involved in drinking large amounts of milk tea.

Belandres said that they might lose consciousness, and that wounds they sustain may not heal.

Dietician Allan Jose said that milk tea has high levels of sugar, even if customers can choose the sugar percentage.

The so-called sugar percentage only dictates how much sugar they add.

"Pag sinabi naman natin na zero percent sugar or ten percent sugar, yung ilalagay lang nila. Pero halos lahat ng ginagamit na ingredients sa milk tea, merong sweetener, kagaya ng sago, kagaya nung flavoring, kagay nung dairy mismo, yung milk, yung creamer, may sugar ring kasama yun," he said.

"Zero percent yung dinagdag nila pero di pupwede na walang sugar talaga yun," he added.

Jose advised to take things in moderation — when it comes to milk tea, this means one serving a week.

"Di naman natin sinasabi na wag uminom yan, o masamang uminom niyan, pag nasobrahan ng kahit ano, kahit ng gulay pag masobrahan masama sa katawan. Again, in moderation, one serving lang per week," he said. — LA, GMA News