Kicking your daily soda habit can be difficult, but the cons are enough to help get you started on the journey. Concerns are building about sugary beverages and their association with obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease, according to integrative medicine physician Irina Todorov, MD.
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According to an American Heart Association study, consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks was associated with coronary vascular disease mortality and artificially sweetened drinks were associated with cardiovascular disease mortality in the highest intake category only.
“The more regular soda cans per day we drink, the more likely we are to die from heart disease,” says Dr. Todorov. “As for the diet soda users, the risk was observed in heavy users only.”
What about one can a day?
Is there harm in drinking soda in moderation like one can a day?
Even that amount — even if it is a diet soda — can hurt your health.
An American Diabetes Association study reported that consuming one or more sodas per day compared to none at all increased the risk of metabolic syndrome by 36% and type 2 diabetes by 67%. Moreover, drinking one diet soda per week was linked to a 70% greater risk of diabetes compared to those who didn’t drink diet soda. Currently, around 1 in 10 adults have type 2 diabetes and 1 in 3 have prediabetes.
Don’t even think about reaching for that diet soda, either. Diet soda is notorious for having artificial sweeteners in them, which can contribute to weight gain, increased hunger, diabetes and can even impact your metabolism. Not only that, but one study suggests that diet soda may change how your brain reacts to cravings for food high in calories.
On average, one can of soda can have as much as 39 grams of sugar. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 grams of sugar per day for women and no more than 36 grams of sugar per day for men. When you consume soda, you can easily cut it close to your daily sugar recommendations or even go overboard.
“Changing habits is difficult,” says Dr. Todorov. “Instead of concentrating on what you can’t drink, try to put your efforts into what you can.”
Kicking your soda habit
To help wean yourself off of your daily soda, try swapping it with a few alternatives:
- Try sparkling water to mimic the bubbles from your favorite soda.
- Flavor your water with slices of cucumber, kiwi or strawberry.
- Freeze fruit in ice cubes and add them to your water for extra sweetness.
- Enjoy a cup of black coffee, green or black tea for a caffeine kick.
- Drink chamomile, valerian or lemon balm tea if you feel stressed.
- Sip on hibiscus tea throughout the day if you have hypertension. This may help you achieve better control of your blood pressure.
“If you cannot stop drinking sweetened beverages cold turkey, try to taper off as best you can,” says Dr. Todorov. “If you’re drinking a 20-ounce bottle of soda a day, try a 12-ounce bottle instead. If you’re drinking two sodas a day, try one.”