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There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a soda every now and then.
But when your soda habit becomes a normal part of your day, it’s time to make some changes. Those sugary beverages offer no nutritional benefit. Plus, the calories that come with that soda habit can quickly add up.
Consider this: One 20-ounce regular cola has 227 calories and about 16 teaspoons of sugar. That 32-ounce Big Gulp at your favorite gas station weighs in at 364 calories and about 23 teaspoons of sugar.
The American Heart Association recommends the average male should consume only 9 teaspoons of sugar per day while the average female should consume only 6 teaspoons of sugar per day. Just one 20-ounce sugary soda contains that daily allowance, and then some.
Sugar hides in many of our beverage choices. According to Healthy Food America, almost half of all added sugars Americans consume come from sugary drinks (e.g., soda, specialty coffees, sports drinks, lemonades).
And while all those empty calories add up and can lead to weight gain, studies have shown there’s more danger in sugary beverages than just a few extra pounds. Regular consumption of sugary beverages has been linked with health issues such as obesity, chronic kidney disease, fatty liver, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes.
One study found that regular consumption of a 12-ounce sweetened beverage increased the risk of cancer deaths by 5 percent and cardiovascular deaths by 10 percent, according to an AARP article.
Another study, highlighted in the Washington Post, found that regularly drinking two glasses of diet soda per day was associated with an increased risk for circulatory diseases. Adults who drank one or more glass of a sugary beverage daily were at increased risk for digestive diseases, according to the same study.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also notes there is a positive correlation between soda intake and other unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, poor sleep habits, lack of exercise and poor eating habits, such as frequent fast food meals or a diet that has little to no fruits or vegetables.
So what can you do? Switch up your habit. For some, that may mean stepping down to a diet soda temporarily as you make the full switch to non-sugary beverages like a flavored water or seltzer water.
For others, you may opt to gradually decrease your intake and opt for healthier options such as low-fat milk or a fruit-infused water.
If you cut that daily 12-ounce can of sugar sweetened soda, you’ll drop about 15 pounds in a year — just from that one change. If your soda intake is more than one can a day, you’ll drop more weight the less you drink. Just be sure not to replace those sodas with a sugary juice or snack.
You’ll also see some changes in how you feel. You may find you sleep better or that those aches and pains you had aren’t as bad as they were when you were regularly downing a 32-ounce Big Gulp.
Kicking the soda habit takes some work, but the benefits are worth the effort. Check out these alternatives to sugary drinks.
Browse Healthy Driven recipes that are delicious and nutritious.
Need to shed excess pounds? Endeavor Health Weight Management® at Edward-Elmhurst Health offers both surgical and non-surgical options to help you achieve permanent weight loss and the healthy, active life you were meant to live. Learn more or call 331-221-6100.
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