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Sodas Can Kill You, Drink These Delicious Alternatives Instead

When a health and wellness beginner asks me for advice, my first question is always the same: do you drink sodas?

If they answer ‘yes,’ then that’s where we start — education. And then alternatives to soda.

According to a 2017 study, half of all adults and 61 percent of kids regularly drink the sugary drinks. And according to another study from 2019, drinking soda directly contributes to higher risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke, colorectal cancer, and all causes of natural death.

Food scientists have also recently begun pushing to classify processed foods like sodas and refined carbs as “addictive” and similar to cigarettes in every way. Specifically, drinking soda can trigger sweet cravings by dulling your sensitivity to sweet tastes, sparking a vicious cycle of eating foods and drinks with added sugar.

“Soda has no nutrients of value, and therefore, there is no nutritional benefit to having it,” says Kelly Kennedy, RD, and nutritionist. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), one can of soda contains 36.8 grams (g) of sugar, which is “about 1 ½ times more than the American Heart Association recommends a woman have in an entire day,” Kennedy also says.

Diet soda is not an alternative worth trying

Diet soda is no better, either (and it may be significantly worse considering the artificial sweeteners). “While diet soda does not contain added sugar or empty calories like regular soda does, there is some evidence to suggest that it isn’t much better — if at all — than regular soda,” Kennedy says. In fact, the increase in waist circumference among diet soda drinkers was 3 times the amount that it was in nondrinkers.

“While you’re not getting the same amount of calories or sugar from a diet soda that you would from a regular one, the belief is that with diet soda the body senses the sweet flavor and craves the calories that would normally go with that flavor,” says Kennedy. “As a result, people end up making up for the missed calories in other foods that they eat throughout the day.”

So what’s the best way then to immediately improve your health and lose weight without lifting a finger? Ditching sodas, of course. But as we’ve previously discussed many times here, the only way to stick to something new is to substitute the old habit with a newer, better one.

Replacing your soda with other sugary drinks, processed teas, or dessert-like coffee drinks isn’t an appropriate alternative, either. We need water more than anything, so it’s time to learn how to drink water more consciously so it becomes more desirable.

Three ways to improve your water

Infuse it with flavor

Just add slices of your favorite fruits, veggies, and herbs — try lemons, oranges, pomegranate, cucumber, mint, or limes — to a pitcher of ice-cold water for a refreshing and flavorful drink. You can also add fruit to an ice tray with a little water to make fruit ice cubes.

Drink sparkling water

There’s some buzz out there suggesting that carbonation can negatively impact health, or that drinking out of aluminum cans can transfer heavy metals. But we wouldn’t worry too much — sparkling water is a MUCH better option than soda in every conceivable way.

Give kombucha a try

If you don’t want to elevate your water, then try transforming it. Kombucha is a naturally fermented beverage packed full of probiotics (and can even come with a little alcohol content depending upon preparation).

“More studies are needed on the health benefits of kombucha, but it is a good source of probiotics and could help to improve gut health,” Kennedy says. “The fermentation process gives kombucha a mildly acidic flavor, not unlike apple cider.”

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