5 Healthy Replacements For Soda

As temperatures heat up this summer, nothing sounds better than a chilled, fizzing soda to refresh us.  You may find yourself reaching for a Diet Coke, a seemingly healthier alternative to its high sugar and high calorie counterpart; however, don’t be fooled by the “diet” in “diet soda.” Read on to find out why you may be better off avoiding soda all together.

1.     You’re confusing your body.

     As delicious as regular sugar is, artificial sweeteners actually deliver up to 600 times more intense flavor, dulling the satisfaction we derive from natural flavors found in our favorite fruits and other foods.   Don’t let diet soda ruin the summer fruit season for you!

2.     You’re tricking your brain.

    By cutting out liquid calories, you may think it’s justified to indulge in that extra slice of pizza or venti Frappuccino because you’ve earned it, right? Wrong!  If anything, diet soda hurts weight loss efforts. Our brains are used to associating sweet flavors with high calorie foods that satisfy hunger.  Because diet soda doesn’t fulfill the body’s anticipated calorie intake, you may find yourself craving sweeter and sweeter foods, making it even harder to maintain a disciplined diet. 

3.     It messes with your digestive system.

    A recent study in mice found that the artificial sweeteners found in diet soda altered the bacteria found in their gut.  The change resulted in vulnerabilities to insulin resistance – ineffective insulin processing - and glucose intolerance – abnormally high levels of blood glucose – both of which can lead to weight gain and are precursors of Type 2 diabetes.   Other research has shown that artificial sweeteners inhibit leptin, the appetite-regulating hormone that suppresses hunger.

4.     You’re hurting your heart.

    Research has shown a strong correlation between those who do or do not drink soda and the growth in their waist size over the years.    A recent study found that non-soda drinkers only gained an average of .8 inches to their waist size over a nine-year period, whereas avid soda drinkers gained an average of 3.2 inches.  This particular form of weight gain is especially dangerous, as visceral fat, which surrounds our abdomen, plays a particularly key role in our hormone functions as well as in the onset of cardiovascular disease, inflammation, and Type 2 diabetes. 

5.     Lastly, you’re not only tricking your brain, but hurting it as well!

   Although some companies have made a push to eliminate aspartame from their products, most have not.  Not only found in diet sodas, aspartame is found in many foods labeled “sugar-free” from yogurt to chewing gum to vitamins.   Aspartate works as a neurotransmitter in the brain, transmitting information from one brain cell to the next.  Too much of the chemical causes a dangerous influx of calcium, which activates proteins.  The excess calcium essentially stimulates the cells to death.  Further, the blood brain barrier, which blocks aspartate from the brain, doesn’t fully protect all parts of the brain, nor is it fully developed in children, making kids particularly susceptible to neural damage.  Scarily enough, more often than not the vast majority of neural cells in a particular area of the brain will have already been killed before any clinical symptoms of chronic illness – including Parkinson’s, epilepsy, and ALS -- are noticed.

 Overall, a bubbly Diet Coke just isn’t worth the health risks it causes.  You’re infinitely better off cooling down with a glass of iced water. If plain water doesn't do it for you, try these five replacements:

1.  Kombucha!

2.  Carbonated water with lemon.

3.  Make your own spa water with cucumber, mint, and citrus!

4. Try Hansen’s Diet Soda, it’s a better option and it tastes great!

5. Grab a bottle of sparkling water—sometimes, you just need the bubbles!




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