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Part of my job is to help people make healthier choices in life… one of those choices is the decision to get sugar-sweetened beverages out of their life – for good. Sugar-sweetened beverages aren’t good for anyone. Ever. Sorry to be so black and white about it, but people don’t seem to (want to) understand that taking a hit of sugar to your liver (without the buffer of consuming fiber and other nutrients, as you would when consuming whole fruit) is straight-up poisoning yourself. Would you drink a product that I told you was toxic, even if it tastes good? What if there was scientific evidence to back up the claim that drinking it long-term will literally poison your body and result in a variety of chronic illnesses, including obesity, diabetes, reproductive problems, asthma, kidney issues, dental problems, osteoporosis, and heart disease? Still in? Still giving it to your kids? FYI – it doesn’t need to have bubbles to be a sugar-sweetened beverage – we just call that juice. And, if you answered yes, I’d call you nuts!
But wait, you only drink diet sodas, right? So that doesn’t count…? …Right? Not exactly. Fake sugars are their own poison. Did you know that Splenda was developed as a pesticide? Seriously… someone accidentally realized it was sweet and viola! It’s on the shelves of your local market in countless diet products. How about some pesticide with your bubbly afternoon pick-me-up? The other artificial sugars have similar, tainted histories and side-effects. Picking between them gives you the opportunity to literally pick your poison. On top of that, there is some evidence that when you consume fake sugars, your body becomes confused – are you eating? Are you not? Your body decides no! It detects sugar, but it doesn’t detect any calories… this can create a desire for your body to keep eating because the satiety signals (that are created with actual caloric consumption) are not detected. Unfortunately, there are countless research studies that show this to be true, and show the opposite to be true – but, I’m betting if you dig you’ll find a great deal of biased research behind the current short-term (that’s right, there are no long terms safety studies on these products in humans… but, for the record, rats don’t fare so well) studies that claim these products are harmless.
So, what can you do? Sugar-sweetened beverages, along with their diet counterparts are addicting… don’t think for a second they’re not. If you drink them daily, there’s no doubt you have some level of addiction to these substances. There’s the caffeine issue, there’s the sugar issue, and there’s also a psychological component thrown in the mix as well. If I were you, I would first assess what types of product that I’m consuming and how often. Is the product all sugar and no caffeine, sugar-free but as caffeinated as coffee? Figure out what you consume now, so that you can figure out how to replace it with minimal consequences. If you are drinking all sugar, all caffeine, or both, find a substitute and scale back slowly. If you go from six sodas a day to nothing, there will be physiological and psychological consequences. In order to avoid those, perhaps replace the caffeine with green tea, the sugar with a naturally-sweetened beverage, and as time goes on, dilute with water… if you dig the bubbles, replace with sparkling or mineral water. Eventually, you can cut back to mineral water that is ”sweetened” with organic fruit (like raspberries, citrus juice, et cetera). You can cut back on caffeinated tea and move into enjoying herbal teas (although, a bit of organic green tea will likely benefit your health).
In case you need more motivation to make a step in a healthy direction, I’ve included an infographic below on the dangers of consuming the poison we currently know as soda. Oh, and don’t forget that it was recently ruled that for PepsiCo, Kraft, and Nestle, using aborted fetal cells in soda flavoring is just business as usual! Yum…