Warning! Sugary beverages can give you a heart attack!
It’s no secret that sugar-laden drinks are implicated in America’s obesity epidemic. But it turns out that sodas and other sugary drinks don’t just make you fat, they actually increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Frank Hu, MD, PhD, Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, found that people who drank just one or two sugar-sweetened beverages a day had up to a 26 percent increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a 35 percent greater risk of heart attack or fatal heart disease, and a 16 percent increased risk of stroke. Because the sugar in these drinks is high fructose corn syrup or table sugar (sucrose), they are especially dangerous. Unlike glucose, which is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract into the bloodstream, fructose is metabolized in the liver, where it can be converted into triglycerides that are linked to fatty liver disease and insulin resistance.
Natural Alternatives to Soda
If you’re trying to replace soda, it can be difficult to find healthy replacements. While diet soda doesn’t have sugar, it still contains processed artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, and might actually lead people to consume more calories from other sources. Obviously filtered water (using the Ecoflo Water Purification System) is always a great choice, but many people miss having a flavored or carbonated drink.
Here are some good all-natural soda replacements:
- Sparkling water
- Be sure to choose a brand that is sugar-free and all-natural
- You can use a home carbonation device to reduce the cost and the environmental footprint of bottles or cans
- Green tea is great earlier in the day, or try decaf if you’re sensitive to caffeine
- Herbal tea is great at any time of day
- You can choose teas for flavor or for health benefits. For example, nettle tea might help to support lower blood sugar levels, which is great if someone is quitting soda because of its negative effects on blood sugar
- Water enhanced with fruit, vegetables, or herbs
- Enhancing water with all-natural additions is an excellent way to get flavor and vitamins without adding many calories
- You can also add these to sparkling water
- Suggested healthy water flavorings:
- Fresh or frozen berries: blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries
- Other fresh or frozen fruit slices: grapefruit, lemon, lime, mango, orange, peach, pineapple
- Add a small splash of an all-natural, no-sugar-added juice, like pomegranate juice
- Fresh herbs: basil, cilantro, ginger root slices, lemon balm, lemongrass, mint, parsley
- Combinations! Mix up a pitcher at night, let it sit in the fridge, and enjoy refreshing infused water the next day!
- Cucumber slices and mint
- Watermelon and mint
- Strawberries and basil
- Lime, ginger root, turmeric root, and, if desired, a splash of apple cider vinegar
- Raspberries and lemon balm
- Rose petals and cardamom pods
- Blueberries and lavender petals
Originally published in Good Health Lifestyles Magazine, Winter 2017. Soda replacement suggestions by Peach Vitamins staff.