High fructose corn syrup, sucrose, natural flavor, and aspartame. What do all of these words have in common? They have all been found in separate studies to be detrimental to human health, and they all happen to be ingredients in some of your favorite bubbly beverages.
No Pepsi, No Problem: Read on or jump to my 5 healthy substitutes for your popular fizzy drinks!
Brands like Coca Cola, Pepsi, and Sprite are some of the most powerful brands in media. They endorse companies and foundations including the World Wildlife Fund, American Red Cross, Special Olympics, The NFL, and the World Economic Forum. Their contributions to American-owned businesses, and international companies are vast; however, their contribution to the degradation of American health and wellbeing has been just as staggering.
These sugary drinks or “soft” drinks refer to any beverage that has added sugar or sweetener like high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, aspartame, and more.
As a category, these drinks are the single largest source of calories and added sugar in the US diet.
Why do these soft drinks have such high caloric value? The sugar content.
Sugar is incredibly calorie dense. It is found naturally in foods, like fructose in fruit, and is meant to provide a boost of calories that provides energy for the body.
When sugar is removed from its naturally occurring state and added to a beverage with other additives and artificial flavors, it creates a formula for a pre-cursor to disease.
The more ounces of sugary beverages a person has each day, the more calories he or she takes in later in the day. This is the opposite of what happens with solid food, as people tend to compensate for a large meal by taking in fewer calories at a later meal.
So, by drinking these sugar-filled drinks, you are unintentionally crowding out eating nutrition -filled foods because you manipulate your hunger cues.
There are 4.2 grams of sugar in a teaspoon. On average, there is 7-10 teaspoons of sugar in a single 12 ounce can of soda.
Beyond weight gain, routinely drinking these sugar-loaded beverages can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic diseases. Furthermore, higher consumption of sugary beverages has been linked with an increased risk of premature death.
Studies in children and adults have found that reducing sugary drink consumption can lead to better weight control among those who are initially overweight.
People who consume sugary drinks regularly—1 to 2 cans a day or more—have a 26% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
In the Framingham Heart Study, men and women who had one or more soft drinks a day were 25% more likely to have developed trouble managing blood sugar and nearly 50% more likely to have developed metabolic syndrome like cardiovascular disease.
In a larger more comprehensive study on sugary beverages and their link to premature death, researchers followed 40,000 men for two decades and determined that those who averaged only ONE can per day had a 20% higher risk of having a heart attack or dying from a heart attack compared to the control group that rarely drank any sugary beverage.
A related study on women garnered similar results but an increased risk of 40%.
There is sufficient scientific evidence that decreasing soda beverage consumption will reduce the prevalence of obesity and obesity-related diseases.
There is hope that in the near future companies like Coca Cola and Pepsi won’t have such a hold on American identity. In 2017, studies showed that Americans have started to move away from these drinks and switching to healthier alternatives as soda consumption hit a 31-year low.
That trend persists as we continue to introduce new, tastier beverages with little to no sugar content.
Let’s get into the alternatives! If you are someone who finds themselves needing something else to drink other than water to spice up your meals, these drinks offer health benefits and great flavor.
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This company is really going to be giving soda companies a run for their money. I discovered Poppi less than a year ago and was amazed with their tasty flavors and incredible health benefits.
Their drinks contain apple cider vinegar which is an incredible prebiotic that provides amazing health benefits for our gut. Prebiotics feed our healthy bacteria and prepares our guts to digest food properly making this drink a great precursor to any meal.
Apple cider vinegar is also a great detoxifier and blood sugar regulator making this a perfect low-cal beverage to enjoy occasionally.
At only 15 calories and 4 grams of sugar per can, this is your perfect substitute to your commercial soda. My personal favorite flavors are strawberry lemonade, ginger lime, and raspberry pose. They also have a fake “coca cola” flavor called classic cola.
Kombucha has been popular for a while now and has several health benefits. Kombucha is a fermented tea that people have been consuming for thousands of years. It contains antioxidants which can kill harmful bacteria and may help fight diseases.
It’s also rich in probiotics which are great for gut health. Prebiotics feed the gut bacteria and probiotics let them thrive.
Studies have also shown that kombucha can improve cholesterol by promoting healthy cholesterol “HDL cholesterol” while reducing bad cholesterol “LDL cholesterol.”
Kombucha often has added cane sugar in their products, which is ok in small amounts, but make sure you always read the back of the product before buying it and check the sugar amounts because some companies use more than others.
My favorite companies are Health-Ade, GT's, and Remedy.
Coconut water is a great source of several nutrients. It also tastes amazing fizzy if you add some San Pellegrino to your glass.
Not everyone is a huge fan of the taste but in addition to adding the bubbles, mixing in sliced cucumber and a squeeze of lemon really spices up your water and doubles the health benefits.
Coconut water is packed with electrolytes, antioxidants, and potassium. It is also a no-sugar beverage so perfect if you’re trying to cut down.
I love Vita-Coco and Harmless Harvest coconut water.
4. La Croix
A popular sparkling water brand free of sugar, calories, sodium, and artificial ingredients.
This product is extremely clean and tastes amazing! I love a good sparkling water with lunch and their flavors are natural and tasty.
My favorite flavors include limoncello, passionfruit, and lime.
Similar to Poppi, Olipop has curated their own formula that comes packed with health benefits in a tasty soda can.
Olipop soda contains so many incredible ingredients. Cassava root contributes to prebiotic fibers (good for the gut), chicory root is also a great prebiotic and provides flavonoids, artichoke for fiber and antioxidants, and calendula flower which is rich in lutein, beta carotene and flavonoids, and more!
This product promotes healthy gut, digestive health, 9 grams of fiber, and only 2-5 grams of sugar depending on flavor.
They also believe they make the BEST coca cola replicate in their flavor called Vintage Cola that I suggest you run not walk to go try if you are a Cola drinker.
This new kind of soda also has classic flavors like strawberry vanilla, cherry cola, and cream soda.
I personally enjoy their fruitier flavors like tropical punch and ginger lemon.
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