Time to Move On From Soda

Consider this for just a minute. The average American drinks 995 liters of soda per year, and the average Mexican drinks 1,059 liters of soda annually. How much is approximately 1,000 liters? 264 gallons of soda per year, almost 3/4 of a gallon of soda every day, or enough annual soda consumed to fill this pool!

Inflatable 264 gallon pool

This article in Aging Health Today highlights the staggering amount of soda we consume and the health issues associated with this consumption. But it’s not just America. In Mexico, obesity rates are soaring due to very high consumption of sugary, processed food and drinks, with even more soda consumed than in America. In Mexico, about 40% of the population is considered obese. Obesity and type II diabetes are closely linked, and just as the U.S. is seeing a continued surge in type II diabetics, so is Mexico. Our consumption of highly processed, sugar-laden foods and drinks are massive contributors to chronic health issues like obesity, type II diabetes and heart disease. It’s time we change what we consume to improve our health. It’s time we move-on from soda.

Health Impact of Soda

With such a high level of consumption, let’s look at the risks and rewards of consuming medium or higher levels of soda, defined as two or more servings/day. We’ll start with the health risks:

  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Erosion of tooth enamel
  • Kidney stones
  • Obesity & metabolic syndrome
  • Insulin resistance
  • Increased sugar consumption. One 20oz soda has approximately 17 teaspoons of sugar.
  • Caffeine addiction
  • Type II diabetes
  • Reduced sperm count in males
  • Dementia

Now to the health benefits:

There are, literally, no health benefits from drinking soda. Not one! But what if I only drink diet soda? Diet sodas can still trigger insulin response, which leads to weight gain. More importantly, most of the diet options have sugar substitutes like aspartame, cyclamate, saccharin, acesulfame-k, or sucralose, which come with their own set of health issues, especially in high volumes. And diet sodas, still, have ZERO health benefits.

Better Options

With so many possible health issues and zero health benefits, why continue to drink this stuff? Here are a host of alternatives to consider:

  • Sparkling water. This is a growing segment with carbonated water and natural flavors that have no sugar, no sugar substitutes and give you the “fizzy” experience of soda. These do not provide much in the way of added value, but eliminate many of the above-mentioned health risks.
  • Lemon (and/or lime) water. Adding lemon to water is a great way to ensure hydration, and it also can alkalize the body (especially in the morning when you arise), improving liver, stomach and digestive performance while also providing some immunity boost.
  • Flavored tea. Especially in the summer time, brewing a pot of tea is as easy as dropping some tea bags into a large container filled with water and letting it brew overnight. The key is not to diminish the benefits by adding sugar, sugar substitutes or even honey. Tea is rich in antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation, and offers digestive, cognitive and even metabolic and mood enhancement depending on the variation you drink. There are hundred of teas to chose from, so finding a flavor that suits you is like being on a treasure hunt!
  • Electrolyte powder. The primary reason we drink fluid is to hydrate the body. Water itself is critical, but if you can add some important electrolytes in your drinks such as potassium, sodium & magnesium, without adding sugar, all the better. Electrolytes are crucial in the performance of the body’s organs and muscles, and you need a lot of them (4,700mg of potassium per day). There are a few electrolyte powders I use (simply add to water & stir/shake), and given they are either naturally flavored or have just a hint of stevia leaf in them, they are low risk / high reward. Here’s a link to some that I prefer from Dr. Berg.