If you have been keeping up with the first three weeks of healthy changes you should now be well hydrated, taking in at least 8 glasses of water per day. With all that water you have hopefully naturally cut down on the quantity of soft drinks you were consuming.
New to 52 Weeks of Health? Please start at the beginning and make those changes first, one week at a time!
The time has come to do away completely with soda, energy drinks, and most bottled/canned fruit juice drinks and teas. Some of you will drop a pound or more a week by making this change alone!
Read the label of your beverage of choice; most of these beverages contain one or more of the following questionable ingredients:
- High Fructose Corn Syrup – In large quantities! Most soft drinks contain the equivalent of 14 to 19 teaspoons of sugar/fructose in one 20 ounce bottle – or about one-third of a cup of sugar! Fructose is metabolized in the liver into triglycerides. That’s right – it’s not your consumption of fat that elevates your triglycerides – it’s your consumption of corn syrup and sugar (table sugar is also half fructose). Fructose also seems to keep blood concentrations of ghrelin high. One of ghrelin’s purposes is to tell your body you are hungry.
- Phosphoric Acid – used to give that tart (acidic) taste. There are some studies that show that consumption of sodas containing phosphoric acid is strongly related to a decrease in bone density resulting in more fractures. The jury is still out on this, but why risk it.
- Sodium Benzoate (or benzoic acid) – a preservative that has been shown to change to benzene, a potent carcinogen, in the presence of certain conditions including heat, light, and the presence of ascorbic acid (vitamin C). So keeping my Mt.Dew in the car during the summer was not a good idea…
- Caffeine – A little caffeine may be ok, in fact there may be some benefit in small doses, but too much may be related to insomnia, irritability, heart palpitations, and it may worsen the effect of phosphoric acid on your bones. Energy drinks have way too much of this. While you’re at it – grab that energy drink out of your teenager’s hands!
- Artificial Sweeteners (Aspartame, Sucralose, Saccharin, etc.) – there are too many questions about all of these – why would you want to risk it?
- Artificial Colors and Flavors – again, why would you want to put some unknown ingredient in your system. Many artificial additives have been linked with cancer. Others may be wreaking undetected havoc with your hormonal or immune system.
If you feel you need something beside water, try hot or iced green tea. Green tea is full of antioxidants and phytonutrients that have been shown to be highly beneficial to your health. I will do a whole post later this week on the benefits of green tea. For now, I would strongly recommend drinking at least two cups of green tea per day. I drink about 20 ounces each day in the form of unsweetened iced tea and my favorite kitchen appliance is my Mr Coffee Iced Tea Maker. We make about 6 quarts of iced green tea per week and this gadget makes perfect iced tea every time.
If you find it difficult to give up your soft drinks all at once, then take the smaller step of cutting your intake in half. Buy smaller containers – drop from a 20 ounce bottle to a 12 ounce can or an 8 ounce bottle. After a couple of weeks, do away with it altogether.
In the same way, cut back on your need for sweetened beverages. Make tea with a little bit of added sugar or honey and slowly reduce the quantity. However, I would rather see you add two teaspoons of table sugar to your iced tea right now than have you consume 1/3 of a cup of sugar in a soda.
Another alternative drink is to add a little all-natural fruit juice (preferably freshly squeezed) to some sparkling water.