Everyone seems to know just how “bad” pop and soda are for our health. There seems to be a new study out every month about the dangers of soda and other carbonated beverages. They’ve been linked to obesity, kidney damage, and certain cancers. But the biggest question is, “Carbonated Beverages Deter your Diet?”
The latest study suggested regular soft drinks are linked to elevated blood pressure. The nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) sees sugary drinks as a major factor in the obesity epidemic.
No one seems to argue the fact that these empty calories aren’t exactly HEALTHY for us. But there always seems to be a disagreement as to just how BAD they are for us. If you don’t want to sit there and sift through the research, the best way to determine if you can have some of these beverages is to do a little trial and error research on your own.
Ask yourself some questions after you have one of your favorite carbonated beverages such as:
- Do I feel sick after drinking this?
- Does it taste too sweet?
- Does it taste fake, like chemicals?
- Am I finding myself more hungry after drinking this?
- Am I feeling gassy and bloated afterwards?
- Am I drinking enough plain water or is this taking its place?
- How about any other side effects like cavities or restlessness or blood sugar problems?
If you find that your answers to these questions aren’t too favorable for you, then it might be time for you to cut back or cut out these drinks completely. If you can’t even imagine going a day or two without your favorite fizzy drink, here are some alternatives to try in the meantime.
- Carbonated water — also known as sparkling water, seltzer water or soda water — is just plain water infused with carbon dioxide. The process of creating carbonated water doesn’t add sugar, sodium, calories or caffeine. And what’s even better, carbonated water doesn’t harm your bones and teeth like sugary beverages are known for doing. The most common “side effect”, if you can even call it that, from carbonated water is bloating and gas, especially in individuals who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome due to the carbon dioxide.
If the sweet taste of soda is what you really crave, always be on the look out for natural sweeteners instead of the artificial stuff. Stevia is one of the more popular healthy alternatives to nutrasweet or aspartame.
- A popular brand of soda is Zevia. It comes in various tasty flavors and it is carbonated. But it’s sweetened with Stevia, instead of something unnatural. The taste is sweet enough to satisfy a regular pop drinker but not too sweet to make it seem like you’re drinking a diet pop. A great middle ground for pop drinkers.
- Jeltzer Water. A popular way to get your fizzy naturally is to mix juice with some seltzer water and voila, Jeltzer has been born! Make sure the juice you are mixing it with is 100% and not some sugary alternative of course. Experts say the best ratio to mix this is one part juice to 3 parts seltzer.
Maybe the bubbles aren’t really what you like, it’s the jolt of caffeine you love in those sodas. Here are some caffeine infused alternatives:
- Coffee – Of course this is the most obvious choice. Coffee in and of itself is not bad for us. In fact it’s been shown time and time again that coffee is quite good for most of us. It’s those extras that we put INTO the coffee that we must limit. Your best bet is just a plain cup of joe. And limit your intake to just a few cups a day.
- Green Tea – Probably the most popular alternative to coffee. This is also calorie-free (as long as you’re not adding anything to it) and can be drunk cold or hot. Some people will sweeten it with a little honey for just a small sweet taste. It’s high in antioxidants and overall is fantastic for us so drink up.
If you find that you’re actually hydrating yourself with pop and diet pop, then these next suggestions are definitely for you:
- Nothing beats plain old water but if you absolutely must have some flavor to your water, skip those flavored drops and powders and sweeten your water naturally with just some fruit. It’s cheap and easy and doesn’t take much time so there’s no excuse on this one. Just cut up some of your favorite fruits and put them in a pitcher of ice cold water. It’s that easy! The best part is that this is so much better for you than those vitamin-enhanced waters that claim to be so good for you. We know those contain artificial flavors and sweeteners so don’t be fooled. Go with the REAL thing!
- Kombucha – If you haven’t heard of this one yet, you will soon. It’s been all the rage lately in fitness magazines and I’m seeing it in most mainstream grocery stores now. It’s an ancient beverage that was called the “Immortal Health Elixir.” It’s more than 2,000 years old and supposedly has health benefits like fighting cancer and arthritis as well as detoxifying agents and improving joint health. Sounds like magic in a bottle! If the jury is still out on the health benefits, it doesn’t seem to matter to Kombucha enthusiasts who love the way it tastes regardless. It’s a sweetened tea that’s got some fizz to it but tastes sweet with a little bit of tart as well. You can find them in your grocery store but more and more people are making their own at home on the cheap.
- Speaking of making your own at home. Soda Streams are all the rage lately. You can make your own fizzy drink by purchasing your own carbonation product where you add the carbon dioxide to any drink. The company has concentrated syrups and flavorings for you to mix in. Of course, this isn’t quite a healthy alternative as much as it is a cheaper alternative and saves on all the cans and plastic bottles that a consumer would normally buy to get their fizzy fix. But, you can make healthy fizzy drinks just by adding fizz to something simple like coconut water or just plain 100% juice.
So there you have it, plenty of alternatives to those diet pop and regular soda drinks.
Remember, there isn’t one food or drink that is 100% terrible for you. But there are always healthier alternatives to these drinks. Hydrate with plain old water as much as possible. But when you want some carbonation, try one of these drinks I mentioned instead. Your body will be so glad you did!