Some doctors rate the drinking of soda and other sweetened drinks as the worst diet habit of all. Sipping lots of sugary sodas as well as fruit drinks, sweetened iced teas, and other soft drinks is a setup for weight gain, diabetes, brittle bones and more.
A study done by the Harvard School of Public Health looked at diets and health of tens of thousands of women, and they found that those who drank at least one sweetened soft drink a day had twice the risk for type 2 diabetes as women who downed soft drinks less than once a month. The culprit? Extra calories.. and all that sugar. Downing a few hundred excess liquid calories a day seems to be responsible for a hefty weight gain: Women who drank soft drinks put on more than 10 pounds in just four years. On contrast, women who quenched their thirst with water, milk, and unsweetened or diet drinks gained far less weight the study found. In a study in Finland, people who drank the most sugary beverages had a 68 percent higher risk for type 2 diabetes.
Think of soft drinks as liquid candy – a sneaky source of calories that does little to fill you up, but is certain to fill you out. In a Purdue University study, researchers found that when volunteers drank roughly three cans of soda a day – totaling 450 in calories – it didn’t have any impact on how much they ate at the meals. In contrast, when they munched jelly beans, they automatically ate less throughout the day.
Soft drinks can also weaken your bones – most likely because the more sweet sips you take, the less likely you are to also be drinking bone-protection, calcium-rich milk. In one Tufts University study, women who had more than three cola drinks a day had 4 percent lower bone mineral density at the hip. Experts suspect that phosphoric acid in colas interferes with natural bone-building in the body, even if you’re getting plenty of calcium.
You can fix the damage you have already caused by drinking too many sugary sodas, but quitting may be harder than you think. We have programmed our taste buds to crave sweetness, and so weaning ourselves off sugar can be difficult. Like any habit, it takes persistence to truly break it forever.
Cutting back on soda will result in lower, steadier blood sugar levels, which means a lower risk for diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Eliminating the 150 calories for each soda from your diet will help you lose weight or maintain your weight. And since soda can etch the surface of teeth, you’ll have stronger tooth enamel for better dental health.
Here are some tips to help you break the sugary soda drinking cycle:
Quench thirst with Water. Treat soda and sweetened fruit drinks strictly as snacks. For thirst, drink water.
Carry water with you. Start the day with a large bottle of cold water, and constantly replenish it as the day goes on. You’ll find that it is a very effective way to cut back on sugary drinks.
Think through your daily beverage intake. After water, daily drinks that are good for your health include coffee, tea, milk, natural unsweetened fruit juices, and even wine. Spread those out through the day, and diminish the need for sodas.
Discover the art of Iced Teas. Brew your own fruity, herbal iced tea the easy way – drop four tea bags in a quart of filtered water, refrigerate overnight. Give it extra zing with a spritz of lemon juice and enjoy as much as you wish as a replacement for water.
Bypass diet versions of sodas and sweetened juices. Diet sodas are a way to wean yourself off of a soda habit, but they should be a temporary solution, not a permanent one. There’s new evidence that having more than one a day raises your risk for metabolic syndrome, a prediabetic condition that also threatens hour heart.
Sweeten your milk. Indulge in a cup of cocoa every day. Add a tablespoon of pure cocoa and a teaspoon of sugar to a cup of skim milk, heat and enjoy. One teaspoon of sugar is a fraction of the sugar in most sodas.
Make a rule: Just water at restaurants. Save calories – and money – by skipping sodas at restaurants. This is particularly true at fast food restaurants: Get a bottle of water, not soda, with your combo meal.
Particularly avoid caffeinated cola. Colas containing caffeine were associated with lower bone mineral density than decaf versions in one study. One alternative: Home brewed iced tea, made with black tea for a little caffeinated pick me up.
All of these are some very good tips for kicking your sugary soda habit. Another alternative to just plain water that I particularly like is the new bottles that infuse fruit into your water. You just cut up some fruit of your choice and place it in the main chamber and fill with water. Put it in the refrigerator all night and by morning you have some deliciously flavored water.. naturally!
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