How did it happen? Somewhere along the line, sodas became the ubiquitous, default drink. I vaguely remember them being more of a special occasion thing when I was little, but I think that was just at our house. The insidious creep of soda had already taken hold. Other kids had 12 packs and big gulps.
This may be the norm, but it is a completely avoidable train wreck. If you haven’t heard, drinking all that sweet liquid wrecks your teeth and adds loads of un-filling, non-nutritive calories to your life. High fructose corn syrup has been linked to obesity, diabetes, and fatty liver, as well. Colas contain acids that strip calcium from your bones.
And that is the good news.
A new study done at UCLA and published in the Journal of Physiology found that rats fed a diet with plenty of HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) performed badly in their mazes. Professor Gomez-Pinlla summed it up: “eating a high-fructose diet over the long term alters your brain’s ability to learn and remember information. But adding Omega 3 fatty acids to your meals can help minimize the damage.” The researchers stressed that they are not talking about the fructose in fruits and vegetables, but the refined stuff that manufacturers put in so many processed foods, as well as sodas.
So if you drink to forget, maybe soda is for you!
Should you opt for replacing your soda with diet, well, that isn’t a very good option, either.
In a study from the University of Texas, data shows that all the participants who routinely drank 2 or more diet sodas per day had a 6 times larger waist size. Aspartame, the popular artificial sweetener, is actually raising blood sugar levels, even though it is “calorie free.” There are correlations between diet soda and diabetes, as well. To call it “diet” when it makes people fatter would seem to be false advertising.
So, where do we go from here?
I suggest a radical notion, one that is surprisingly easy to practice. Just stop drinking sodas. Wild, I know. It’s amazing how icky they taste after you don’t have one for a while. I know, I gave them up years ago. I used to think that a coke was kind of a treat, when I was say, on a long road trip and needed a pick me up, but the last time I had one, I wondered what I had ever seen in them. And there was a period in my younger life when I did drink them every day. I’m not proud of it, I was a conformist, of a sort.
If you miss the bubbles, try sparkling waters and juices. Seriously, orange soda tastes so fake, why not have some oj with a splash of bubbly water? You can even start with concentrates, and mix a few spoonfuls into a glass of mineral water, til it tastes right. Frozen apple and grape juice concentrates are pretty sweet and actually nutritious. You can use them to sweeten your iced tea, too.
Tea and coffee are better ways to get caffeine, if that is what you’re after. The best option is to learn to drink unsweetened drinks, across the board. If you must, sweeten with fruit juice, or agave, which dissolves easily in cold liquids. Make homemade lemonade, you can even cheat and buy lemon juice, and mix it with water and your natural sweetener of choice.
Because it’s already hard enough to remember all those passwords I need on the internets.
Homemade Vegan Frappuccino-like Drink
If you are looking for a little kick and some sweetness, this will do the trick. The upside, coffee is loaded with antioxidants, and soy is good for you, too. The vanilla soymilk is plenty sweet for my taste, but if you must, a tablespoon of agave or maple would take it into sweeter territory.
3/4 cup cold press coffee, or double strong brewed coffee
3/4 cup vanilla soymilk, fortified is best
1 teaspoon cocoa
2 cups ice cubes
Put everything in a blender and frappe. Drink immediately.