|Frappuccinos at home recipe|
It’s hard kicking the habit of drinking soda. I know; I’ve tried it. After a 24-year addiction to delicious diet beverages, I finally walked away. Why? Because, despite my absolute love and need for the fizzy, nose-tickling beverages, I wanted to make healthier, natural, and more varied drink choices.
So why make the switch from soda when it’s your only vice?
Did you know the pH of soda is about the same as vinegar? At a roughly 2.5 pH, for every can of soda, your body drains 20mg of calcium from bones to neutralize the pH balance in the bloodstream from citric acid. What’s worse, the growing consumption of sodas in teens is linked to a growing risk for osteoporosis, and since 40-60% of bone mass is created when kids are teens, it’s important kids make healthy choices during those formative years. It’s even more important we adults preserve what bone mass we have.
Essentially burnt sugar, if your diet drink contains caramel coloring, it’s not carb free. In fact, when I contacted a soda company some years ago, they confirmed caramel coloring contributes approximately .1 carb per 8-ounce serving. Not much, but if you’re a heavy diet soda drinker, those fractions add up. Additionally, caramel coloring is considered immunosuppressive, which explains why, when you’re fighting a cold, ingesting large amounts of caramel coloring could impact white blood cell function.
A preservative used in sodas, sodium benzoate has been implicated in hyperactivity in children, according to research published in 2007. Professor Jim Stevenson from Southampton University says, “The results suggest that consumption of certain mixtures of artificial food colours and sodium benzoate preservative are associated with increases in hyperactive behaviour in children.” And, while he concludes that simply removing one factor won’t remedy the entirety of hyperactivity, “this at least is one a child can avoid.” The same could be said for adults who are having a hard time focusing on those spreadsheets at work.
Because aspartame contains the precursor to tyrosine (the amino acid phenylalanine), aspartame is both a potent analgesic and an anti-depressant, a good reason this sweetener creates dependency in many users. Consumers who overuse or have an aversion to phenylalanine experience negative side effects, such as slurring of speech, imbalance, anxiety, pins and needles feeling in extremities, and the interference of natural serotonin production. Incidentally, aspartame was also eschewed by the late Dr. Atkins due to its tendency to cause a weight loss stall in roughly 25% of dieters ingesting the sweetener.
Thankfully, healthy drink options are abundant and tasty. Check out these options:
- Tea Up: With iced tea, you’ll still get the caffeine kick, but with added antioxidant benefits. Try adding a bag of fruit or peppermint tea for added flavor.
- Slice it Up. Adding a couple slices of fresh, peeled cucumber, lemon or lime lends some crispness to your water (and some vitamins).
- Fizz it Up. Simply slip a few sips of carbonated water and you’ll feel bubbly instantly. (Carbonated water also aids with stomach upset.)
- Shake it Up. Get some shimmy in your shake and work some proteins, iron and calcium into your day. Drinks like the Berry Spinach Smoothie make you feel like you’re cheating on your diet.
- Coffee Up. Make the switch back to hot black or iced coffee, especially since research suggests java drinkers are less likely to have type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia. For added flavor, try Coffee-mate Natural Bliss. With only four ingredients and five carbs per serving, you can feel as spoiled as you were before–only without wondering what’s in your drink.
No matter how you elect to make changes towards a healthier tomorrow, one thing’s for sure: When others drink to your health, you can be sure to drink to yours, too.