After a previous article on Ditching Diet Soda, I received a follow-up question from a reader:
So, if I can't drink diet soda (or any soda, for that matter) what are my options? Drinking water all the time doesn't seem all that appealing.
While water is the best thing for us, as we are made up of about 75-80 percent water, I do realize it can get boring to just have water all the time. I even grew up drinking mostly Sprite or Coke (I'll even go so far as to say that I probably drank that exclusively) because water was "icky" and "boring." I feel fortunate to have walked away from childhood with only a few cavities. Many of our children now are developing Type 2 diabetes, which used to be associated with adults primarily, amongst other metabolic disorders. This is, in part, due to diet and our ever-increasing reliance on technology for entertainment. I grew up without gaming consoles and even a computer until elementary or middle school, whereas children now learn how to use an iPad by the time they're 4.
I digress ...
I also got a similar question from a patient who has a young son who used to drink diet soda. After reading the article last week, she said no more diet soda. It just wasn't worth the health of her son. Finding options for children can also be hard, but there are some healthy ones besides soda.
- Juice: 100 percent juice is the way to go for a sweet treat. I always recommend that the juice is 100 percent with no additives or sweeteners. Make sure to read the label on the side. There should be very simple (and few) ingredients. If there's anything that sounds like a chemical experiment listed, look for another brand. In terms of quantity, about 8 ounces a day is about the maximum.
- Water with fruit: Water with fruit that has been soaking in it is always a tasty option. I had my first experience with this about 10 years ago - water that had orange slices in it. With a fruit infuser, you can put in any fruit that would be tasty for you. There is a product available on Amazon that serves this purpose well! So you get a little bit of sweetness and a different flavor but without a ton of sugar.
- Tea: A couple of cups of tea a day can be beneficial for your health, according to many different studies. Green and white teas, especially, are rich in antioxidants, which promote a healthy functioning immune system. Some teas are very calming and help promote sleep (chamomile) and others help digestion (minty teas). Tea is a better option than coffee because of the lower amount of caffeine found in tea relative to coffee. Most teas have only a small fraction of the caffeine. Too many cups of coffee lead to dehydration and headaches.
As far as Gatorade, Vitamin Water and other similar drinks, it's best to keep it at a minimum and not make it a majority of your liquid consumption for the day. I don't recommend any type of electrolyte replacement unless you're doing some moderate type of exercise that depletes your body of electrolytes. In those situations, Gatorade/Powerade can be a quick way to get that stuff back into your system. The biggest thing to watch out for with any drink is how much sugar is in them. Many sodas, carbonated waters, etc have about 35-45 grams of sugar. That is a bit too much.
How much water should you drink? There are a couple of recommendations as a baseline: 64 ounces of water daily or half your body weight in ounces daily. If you exercise heavily (even if you don't sweat too much), add more water to your day. With this summer heat, even if you don't exercise, add more. Water helps us stay hydrated, helps our muscles stay soft and supple, keeps blood pressure regulated, flushes the kidneys and can help us stay more alert and cognitively aware throughout the day.
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