Are the beverages you are drinking every day slowly killing you? Here are some alternatives…

By on August 19, 2012 under Nutrition

This blog was inspired by a patient who I saw last week. He is a young healthy patient who was recently diagnosed with high blood pressure. After hearing the news from his previous doctor, he immediately got serious about his health. He quit smoking and started exercising, even completing a triathlon. He was taking 2 different medications to keep his blood pressure within a safe level. He isn’t sure why his blood pressure is still elevated given all the changes he had made to his lifestyle. Upon further questioning, he admitted to drinking a minimum of 10 diet cokes each day.

By now we all have heard that sodas are bad for us. I wholeheartedly agree and recommend either cutting out sodas completely or limiting intake to a rare treat. I also believe that diet sodas and other beverages that contain artificial sweeteners are contributing to the epidemic of chronic disease.

  • Regular sodas can cause obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, high triglycerides, fatty liver, osteoporosis, and tooth decay
  • Diet sodas increase your risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, and osteoporosis. 
  • Although we drink diet beverages to limit calories and control weight, ironically they are associated with obesity likely because they interfere with hormones that tell us we are full or hungry.
  • Diet beverages are filled with artificial ingredients that our body does not recognize as food and disrupts our metabolism.
Here are beverages to avoid and some healthy alternatives.

Avoid:

  • Beverages with artificial sweeteners (read the label and look for NutraSweet/Equal – aka aspartame, Splenda – aka sucralose, Sweet ‘N Low – aka saccharin). These include Gatorade, Propel, most bottled teas, and most “diet” drinks.
  • Beverages with vitamins added to them (such as “Vitamin Water). I don’t know about you but I don’t want food companies choosing my vitamin supplements. To increase their profits, they use the cheapest form that sometimes do more harm than good.
  • Beverages that are marketed as “energy” drinks. Energy drinks may contain high levels of sugar, artificial sweeteners, high levels of caffeine, and other “natural” ingredients that act as stimulants that may raise blood pressure, heart rate, and risk of death.

Healthy alternatives:

  • Water (preferably filtered)
  • Soda water (club soda, Perrier, La Croix) with fresh squeezed lemon or lime. I like to add pomegranate juice for extra flavor and antioxidants
  • Water infused with fruits, vegetables, and/or herbs. For those who have a little more time, hear are some recipes.
  • If you must purchase bottled beverages, look for beverages sweetened with Stevia (aka Reb A). Stevia is a zero calorie sweetener from the leaves of the Stevia plant. You can purchase Stevia sweetener in grocery stores (look for Stevia, Truvia, Sweet Leaf, etc…)
  • Brew your own tea at home and sweeten with Stevia, raw cane sugar, or raw honey (which can be purchased at any grocery store. Raw sugar and raw honey are less processed than white sugar and mass produced honeys). These are the only sweeteners I use on a regular basis.
  • My favorite bottled beverage is SoBe beverages, especially the Lifewater which comes in all different flavors. SoBe comes in zero calorie and low calorie: the zero calorie SoBe beverages are only sweetened with Stevia and the low calorie are sweetened with Stevia and sugar. I would avoid the SoBe “Lean Machine” Lifewater which contain vitamins.