Say No to Soda, Yes to Healthy Drinks
Learn five reasons why soda is bad for you and five healthy drinks that are better for quenching your thirst.
Sodas are sweet, sparkling and tasty — but don't confuse them with a healthy drink. Doctors have discovered a ton of health risks connected with drinking soda pop. Worse, you're robbing yourself of a healthy drink alternative brimming with needed vitamins and minerals every time you chug down a soft drink.
"If you're choosing a soda, chances are you aren't choosing a healthy beverage," says Keri M. Gans, a nutrition consultant in New York City and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. There are a number of healthy drink choices you can make instead.
Why Say No to Soda?
- Soda is truly worthless to your body. "In my opinion, there's really one major reason to not drink soda," Gans says. "It has absolutely no nutritional value. Soda is filled with sugar and calories and nothing else." Even diet sodas — low to no calories and sugar — don’t have any redeeming virtues, nutritionally. Healthy drinks, on the other hand, have vitamins and minerals the body can use. Even plain water can rehydrate your body without adding extra calories to your diet.
- Sugary sodas contribute to obesity and diabetes. Soda is loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, a sweetener that has been linked to obesity. Soda consumption also has been linked to the development of type 2 diabetes, both due to its sugar content and its effects on the body's hormones. And diet soda? It may not be any better. At least one study has linked artificial sweeteners, such as those used in diet sodas, to increased appetite, greater difficulty losing weight, and a harder time maintaining weight loss.
- Soda damages your teeth. The sugar in soda coats your teeth, combining with bacteria in your mouth to form acid. Both regular and diet soda also contain carbolic acid through carbonation. These acids work to weaken tooth enamel, causing cavities and tooth decay.
- Drinking soda can weaken your bones. Most sodas contain phosphorous and caffeine, agents that are believed to contribute to osteoporosis. Experts also worry that people consume soda in place of milk or other healthy drinks, depriving the bones of calcium.
- Soda can harm your major organs. Research has demonstrated that increased soft drink consumption may be linked to chronic kidney disease, development of metabolic syndrome (a group of symptoms that add up to increased heart risk), and fatty liver, a chronic liver disease.
Healthy Drink Alternatives
Luckily, there are limitless options when choosing a healthy drink over a soda pop. Some soda alternatives include:
- Water. It is the ultimate healthy drink. "It's free in every sense of the word," Gans says. "It has no calories and it comes straight from your tap."
- Fruit juice. Gans urges you not to drink straight fruit juice, which contains a lot of sugar. "Drink some seltzer with a splash of juice for a little flavoring," she says. "Rather than drinking juice, eat a piece of whole fruit. You're also getting the fiber in the fruit."
- Milk. This is another essential healthy drink, particularly for kids. "An 8-ounce glass of nonfat milk has 80 calories and nine essential nutrients," Gans says. "You get a lot of bang for your buck."
- Tea. Whatever teas you prefer — green, black, herbal — they all have been shown to contain high levels of antioxidants, which are believed to protect the body from damage.
- Powdered drink mixes. They contain no tooth-rotting carbonation, and come in sugar-free varieties. They give your sweet tooth a fix without harming your overall nutrition.
And remember that you can always cut up some fresh fruit and pop a little into a tall glass of water for an extra flavor kick. Choosing healthy drinks over soda: Give it a try. Your body will thank you.