Are you looking for a refreshing boost that doesn’t add inches to your waistline and wreak havoc on your health? Check out our list of soda alternatives so you can make the best choice for yourself and your family.
How does pop affect health?
Most people know that soda isn’t healthy, but I’m not sure most are aware of just how bad soda is for us. If they did, I wouldn’t be writing this article on alternatives to pop.
Rather than a “refreshment”, what if we called these drinks what they are? How about “liquid calories devoid of nutrition and so packed with sugar that there has to be a caffeine jolt to keep you from crashing post-sugar rush” drinks?
No wonder it’s so hard to learn how to quit soda. If you need more motivation, soft drinks and their ingredients may be linked with adverse health effects like:
- Weight gain and obesity
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease - the silent global pandemic
- Cavities and mouth health issues - the acid + sugar combo is a one-two punch to your teeth
- Low HDL, high triglycerides, and Heart Disease - Learn more about Resync’s efforts with heart health here
- Type 2 Diabetes - including connective tissue injuries caused by advanced glycation end products.
- Gout - fructose in high fructose corn syrup and in table sugar produce uric acid as a byproduct, which forms sharp painful crystals in your small joints
Not only does soda have some grave consequences, but you probably know: once you start, it is seriously hard to stop!
Sugar cravings are partly thanks to unhealthy gut bacteria. Having grown so used to plentiful access to the cheap and easy energy source, when you cut the sugar, they start the cravings by sending out signals to your brain to seek and consume.
Besides your gut bacteria, internal circuits in your brain are wired to love sugar - the same reward center in your brain activated by opioids and narcotics is activated by sugar, suggesting there may be something to the sugar-addiction theory. Our bodies are designed to gain weight, and to make it a pleasurable experience, otherwise the chances of surviving an ice age winter are slim.
Soda Alternatives, from Worst to Best
So, you think you’ve quit sugar for good, but for some reason you’re hanging around the fridge every ten minutes. Here’s our list of the best alternatives to soda including low- and no-sugar alternatives. If you just want the best soda substitute, skip to the end to see what you should fill your fridge with.
This list focuses on sparkling beverages you can drink instead of soda, because you’re looking for that crisp refreshing feel of a carbonated drink.
The Worst Alternative To Pop - Sports Drinks
High sugar drinks that market themselves as “natural” are the beverage industry’s attempt to con you into staying stuck in the cycle of soda addiction.
I have to be honest with you, “sports drinks” are hardly an acceptable substitute, even if they are carbonated and branded as a refreshing recovery food. With just as much sugar as a soda, you’re better off going with a science-based electrolyte drink for your health.
Although not carbonated, I thought it would be helpful to mention other high-sugar, high-harm beverages that some use as a post-workout refreshment: sweet tea, most juices (apple, grape, punch, cranberry cocktail, orange drinks, etc.), chocolate milk, lemonade, premixed drinks, and many more. All of them are filled with simply too much sugar, and even worse, fructose. Your muscles need glucose to refuel; fructose is like a poison to your musculoskeletal system.
Do yourself a favor and dump them down the drain, they’re no better than a cola.
Just because it says diet, it doesn’t mean it's good for you -Is sugar-free diet soda better than regular soda?
Is diet soda healthy?
It depends on who you ask.
It’s a good soda alternative, certainly better than chugging a 2 liter of Coke®, but downing a similar amount of diet soda would put your health in a pretty bad state.
Some potential negative effects of calorie-free sweeteners:
- May increase risk of weight gain and type 2 diabetes
- May lead to glucose intolerance
- May promote unhealthy gut bacteria
- May be linked with cancer with very high doses
- May lead to increased sugar consumption afterwards
As long as you’re staying aware of your consumption, they can help you wean off soda. Think of sugar-alternatives as a way for you to transition away from craving so much sugar in your drinks.
You might be surprised to know that your gut can actually taste sugary foods, just like your tongue. There are sweet taste receptors in the cells all along your digestive system. When these sweet taste receptors are activated by calorie-free sweeteners, but they don’t get the calorie signal that usually comes along with it, they signal back to your brain, telling you that the diet drink is just not cutting it, and your gut is still waiting for the calories from that sugar.
You shouldn’t expect to feel the same sugar-induced feeling of fullness, and if you try to, you'll end up feeling sick from drinking so much diet soda.
Diet soda isn’t the goal. The goal, honestly, is to steer away from any added sugar in drinks. So keep moving in that direction and you‘ll keep fueling your health for the better!
Better but truly not healthy - Sparkling Fruit Juices
Some sparkling fruit juices do a decent job at minimizing sugar but keep in mind that the sugar added to them, like high fructose corn syrup, is almost identical to sugar found in fruit juices. So are they your best choice? Not quite. You be the judge.
Let’s be clear, if you want to stick to fruit juice, you are better off with some of the high-antioxidant juices lower in sugar. Yet, keep in mind that even beet juice, tart cherry, and cranberry, which are considered good antioxidant drinks, still contain pretty high sugar levels. Therefore, drinking them in moderation is a better choice than regular soda, yet not the ultimate choice for your health.
If you’re looking for a total kitchen, sugar and lifestyle reset, check out my blog on 51 Ways to Sugar- Proof Your Health & Home. Sugar goes by many names, so know what kinds get snuck into your food on a daily basis!
Getting Better, but still high in sugar - Probiotic drinks
Kombucha and apple cider vinegar-based kevita are popular as the new fountain of youth that promise a happy belly that somehow maintains its status as a healthy food despite the high sugar content.
I hate to break it to you, but the beneficial effects of kombucha are pretty overhyped. Better than pop, definitely, but so healthy you could live off it? No, ma’am.
Kombucha is pretty high in sugar; I still haven’t found one that’s not too sugary for my taste buds. That may be a good thing for someone battling sugar addiction, as long as kombucha is part of a sugar-cessation plan, but drinking it daily is not a sustainable habit.
Drinking too much kombucha can lead to side effects like: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, weight gain, flare-ups for people with inflammatory bowel diseases. Moderation is key, and you might want to consider some of the better options on this list. Not to mention the small amount of alcohol in every bottle.
Kefir is a different type of probiotic, akin to a pourable, liquid yogurt. Although you might notice the natural sugar content is rather high, that’s because lactose is the main carbohydrate in milk. Lactose bothers a sizable portion of the world, but consuming it with probiotics can help you to digest it more effectively.
As with all fermented milk products, read the ingredients label! Always look for a “no sugar added” version, because sugar is often the number two ingredient in conventional yogurts!
Maybe Zero-calories, but is it that healthy? - Sparkling Water
Zero-calorie soda water is a great choice when it comes to feeling fresh. Your mouth feels that wonderful burn of carbonation that has the added benefit of settling your stomach, and you feel light and refreshed because, well, there’s not much more than water and tiny bubbles in a can of sparkling water. I want to make sure you are aware that just because something says zero calories, low calorie, sugar-free, or diet, it doesn’t mean, it has no hidden sugar or artificial sweeteners. Such as Aspartame, Acesulfame K and Saccharin. These ingredients are more expensive than the typical sucrose sugar used in “original” soda formulations, however a small percentage of artificial sweetener can replace a high sugar content making you believe you did the right thing for your health.
Your Best Option - Functional Drinks based on science
In a class of their own, the cream of the crop are the new-to-the-market drinks with bioactive, functional food ingredients. These new blends have potential to upend the 100-year old model of addiction and disease, in favor of a product that promotes health, not takes it away.
What is this future of carbonation?
Is it a svelte can of energy-boosting liquid that effervesce a sophisticated flavor over the top of your tongue?
Or is it a drink that provides ingredients with science to back up their positive effects on your heart, digestive & immune system?
You’ll know you’ve tasted the future when you take a sip and say “ah” just as much for the flavor as for the healthy decision you’ll be making for your heart and your body with every low-calorie, no-added-sugar gulp.
That’s exactly what you get with a can of Resync Ready to Drink.
I started with the plant-based blend all Resync products are known for. When it comes to boosting nitric oxide for health or performance, red beets have some major advantages. But we know that alone they are not as effective as when they are combined with the polyphenol antioxidant source Aronia berry (aka. chokeberry), and red spinach extract, an ingredient that delivers more natural nitrates per gram than any other vegetable on the market, clinically studied for it’s exercise enhancing effects.
That’s just the start though.
Knowing the anti-inflammatory, heart-healthy, positive-microbiome effects of fiber, I packed in as much prebiotic fiber as possible. Inulin and beta-glucan from oatrim provide 7 grams of fiber to help keep you feeling full and energized - that’s more fiber than in some meals!
Resync ready-to-drink supplies beta-glucan soluble fiber from oatrim, which as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
I added potassium because this is one electrolyte that most people could do with more of. It helps to counteract the blood pressure raising effects of sodium, and it can help you replenish the electrolytes lost in exercise. It’s a boost to your heart, to your workouts, and is regarded as a safe, essential nutrient for everyone.*
Lastly, this functional beverage really shines in its antioxidant capacity. 500mg of vitamin C provides a balanced level that’s not too much to hurt your post-exercise recovery and just enough for some of the immune-enhancing effects we’ve seen in the research. Besides vitamin C, polyphenol antioxidants from the plant-based bioactives like Aronia berry can have significant impacts on the health of your heart, veins and arteries, your gut bacteria, your joints, and so many other positive effects.
I’m pleased to say that we may have made the healthiest soda ever created. If it’s not, then Resync RTD is definitely one of the healthiest soda replacements out there!
Refresh your body with quality ingredients, or slow it down with sugar, is the question I would like you to ask yourself.
Are you ready to Resync your health and live a happier, healthier life?
If you’re looking for a healthy alternative to soda, something refreshing, with a new taste of aronia-citrus flavor, try Resync RTD and let us know how great it makes you feel!
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While other companies try to sell you through clickbait and fake news, we back up what we say with hard data. We believe that when you have the right information, you are empowered to make the best decision possible. That’s why we break down complex science into practical takeaways you can use today.
Wishing you the best in your health,
The Resync Team
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