Showing posts with label carbonated drink. Show all posts
Showing posts with label carbonated drink. Show all posts

Friday, June 21, 2013

Alternatives to Drinking Soda in the Summer

As any child or teenager knows, what can be more refreshing on a scorcher of a summer day than an ice cold drink?  Problem is, the common choice – a cola or other sugar-sweetened soda beverage or sports drink – is high in calories and low in nutrients. It’s important for parents to find healthier, yet still refreshing, alternatives to cut back their kids’ consumption of soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened drinks.  We've got some great alternatives here!

In recent studies, including a CDC 2010 study, Beverage Consumption Among High School Students, we see that kids are generally heading in a good direction, consuming fewer calories from soda than in the recent past.  Water, milk and fruit juices have become the most commonly consumed beverages among high school students.  But for those whose kids are still loading up on sodas, sports drinks, and other sugar-sweetened beverages, you may want to let them know that the CDC says those sweetened drinks are one of the top five contributors of calorie intake. 

So, even if soft drink intake among children and adolescents fell in 2010 compared with 2000, there’s room for improvement, as data from the 2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey revealed.  What researchers learned:
  • Teenagers and young adults consume more sugar drinks than other age groups.
  • About half of the U.S. population drinks sugary beverages daily.
  • Certain U.S. minorities consume more sugary drinks in relation to their overall diet than others.
  • Sugar drink consumption is highest among low-income groups.

Studies have linked sugar drinks to poor diet quality, weight gain, obesity, and diabetes, which is why U.S. dietary guidelines issued in 2010 recommend limiting the consumption of foods and beverages with added sugars, and why the American Heart Association recommends no more than 450 kilocalories of sugar-sweetened beverages per week—that’s about three 12-ounce cans of carbonated cola.

Healthier Alternatives to soda

Get your kids on the right track to reduced sugar consumption and increased health by employing these habit-changing healthy hydration tips.

1.  Limit bad choices where you can

While you may not be able to control what your kids drink at school or at their friends’ homes, you can play the most important role: promote access to healthful beverages and limit sugar-sweetened beverages at home:
  • First, don’t keep sugar-sweetened beverages in the home.
  • Second, kids will often go for what’s refreshing and easy to grab, so make sure that jugs or pitchers of water are easily accessible in the home fridge.
  • Third, lead by example.  Model the behavior you desire them to emulate; drink water and limit junk drink consumption.
If your children have a routine that involves soda, they’ll need a substitute routine to replace the first, so don't remove the soda option without providing a healthy substitute.

2.  Get your fizz on with carbonated water

Let's face it, sometime it seems that nothing is so satisfying as that glorious burning-tickling sensation of a carbonated beverage sliding down the throat on a hot summer day.  If you or your kids have that same insatiable desire for fizzy sodas, try an unsweetened carbonated water.  That's the easiest way to get a sugar-free, calorie-free guzzle buzz.  If you've got a hankering for a little bit of flavor in your drink, try one of these carbonated water twists:
  • Add a couple squeezes of fresh lime juice or lemon juice.
  • Mix in a little bit of 100% fruit juice.
  • Put some crushed spearmint or peppermint leaves into the drink to add a refreshing zip.

3.  The healthier sweetened drink: 100% fruit juice

While fruit juice can have as many calories and carbohydrates as many soft drinks, a glass of 100% fruit juice can have a lot more nutritional value than a soda, especially if it’s fresh squeezed fruit juice, and therefore vibrant with phytonutrients and antioxidants.  If your kids crave the sweetness that they are accustomed to from consuming soft drinks, real fruit juice may be the best option for them. Fruit juices certainly are as flavorful, and much more beneficial.

Here's a recipe to make a fresh, refreshing fruit-based beverage your whole family will enjoy: Watermelon Mint Iced Tea – refreshing and healthy!

What about diet sodas?

You may be wondering why we haven't recommended diet sodas as an alternative. Yes, a sugar-free diet soda will help your kids to cut back on calories, but diet sodas still lack needed nutritional content, and introduce potential health risks (read about it in Is There Danger in Your Diet Soda?).

To learn more about healthy alternatives to soft drinks, listen to the "Shun the Sodas" podcast from the CDC, discussing the importance of limiting the consumption of sodas and other sugar-sweetened drinks by teenagers.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Is There Danger in Your Diet Soda?

heart disease
Diet sodas raise risks for strokes and
heart attacks.
Is diet soda bad for you? Study after study adds more evidence that the most common diet sodas – those sweetened with aspartame – may be less safe than you think. In spite of this, weight-conscious, soda-loving Americans continue to consume tons (an estimated 5,250 tons!) of aspartame annually. Nearly 90 percent of that aspartame is specifically from diet sodas. So, how bad is it really?  Let’s look at the evidence.
  • A 2006 study reported in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health NCBI (The National Center for Biotechnology Information) identified carcinogenic effects of aspartame administered to rats.
  • A 2007 study revealed that even low doses of aspartame increases cancer risk.
  • A 2011 study that followed 2,500 study participants for nine years showed a 61 percent higher risk of vascular events, such as strokes and heart attacks, for those who drank diet soda each day.
  • A study published in early 2012 indicates that aspartame can cause brain damage by leaving traces of methanol in the blood.
  • A study published in late 2012 has linked aspartame to a heightened risk of Lymphoma and Leukemia.This study is gaining particular attention due to its substantial scope, being based on a 22-year data collection period.
risk factors
Sparkling water or with fresh fruit
garnish is a refreshing, healthy alternative to
diet soda.
Can we at least have faith in the assumption that drinking a soda sweetened with aspartame instead of sugar will help us control weight gain or lose weight? No, according to a 2011 study from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. This study, which followed 474 diet soda drinkers for 10 years, found that their waists grew 70 percent more than the waists of non-diet-soda drinkers. Since an increase in weight increases the risk factor for heart disease and many other health problems, such as, cancer and diabetes, it certainly seems that we are better of drinking the sugar-sweetened sodas. 

So, in short, other than the risk factors that aspartame-sweetened drinks may make you fat and may lead to cancer, brain damage, strokes, and heart disease, it’s not a problem to enjoy your daily dose of diet soda. If you still can.

Weight Gain and Diet Soda

If aspartame is this bad for you, then why do we continue our love affair with diet sodas? Do we enjoy a tall glass of cardiovascular risk factor increase? Of course not  But there are a couple of key reasons for diet soda’s popularity:
  • Let’s start with the obvious – how refreshing it is to enjoy the throat-cooling tickle of a carbonated drink, especially when it’s sweetened with our favorite flavors! 
  • Second, Americans are consumed with physical appearance, wanting the perfect physique, like the ones we see on TV every day. This explains why the diet and weight loss industry is one of the biggest and fastest growing businesses; we all want to lose weight.
Combine those two factors and you get the diet soda – the way we can cut out the calories from sugar while still enjoying the taste experience of a fizzy, flavorful soda. Unfortunately, nearly all diet soft drinks on the market today are sweetened with aspartame.

Does this mean we need to give up completely on carbonated drinks to avoid the dangerous side effects? Nearly all health experts say the same thing – that we would be better off drinking a glass of water instead of soda. But since you already know that, let’s assume that you want what I want – to continue enjoying the pleasing taste of sodas, and yet do so without the sugars and without the dangers of aspartame. The good news is, you do have options.  For example:
heart disease
Add fresh lime, kiwi or other fruit to your
home made carbonated beverages.
  • Check out the ingredients of the diet carbonated beverages available at your local health food store or health food grocery. The diet sodas they carry often include those that are sweetened with alternative sweeteners that have not shown the same level of risks as aspartame-sweetened sodas, such as stevia, coconut palm sugar, sucralose, or sugar alcohols. 
  • Consider making your own sodas. This allows you to control both how and how much the beverage is sweetened. Soda maker machines are becoming increasingly popular for this reason. They can be purchased at many major retailers and online. 
  • Experiment with reducing your sweet-flavored assumptions about sodas by allowing yourself something more fanciful than plain water and yet tastier than water and healthy for you. My favorite recipe: Buy ordinary soda water (unflavored sparking water) and add lemon or lime juice to taste. You still get that delightful, ice-cold throat tingle, but virtually no calories. 
Are soda maker machines safe to use? Or is the soda just as bad as diet soda from the store? The big advantage of the machine is that you control the answer to that question, as it’s up to you what diet soda ingredients you allow to go in there. Just be advised that one of the above studies also linked the caramel coloring used in most typical cola recipes to vascular issues as well. And there are plenty of other ingredients you can add that reduce the health of the beverage, such as caffeine, the choice of artificial sweeteners, sodium, and phosphoric acid. But at least with a soda machine and your own recipe, you know exactly what’s in there. 

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer