Carbonated drinks are yummy—it is a fact of life. Whether you prefer root beer, cola, or ginger ale, Our tongues just can't get enough of the sparkly, bubbly feeling of carbonated drinks dancing across our mouths.
But many carbonated drinks fall into the category of soda or pop, and soda is… well… unhealthy—to say the least. It's not a complex concept that consuming so much sugar and high-fructose corn syrup can't be good for you, but how bad is it really? Are all fizzy lemon-lime drinks created equal? Do we have to stick to mineral waters forever if we care about our nutrition?
Just because you are going on a bit of a health kick doesn’t mean you have to give up those craveable, fun bubbles in your drinks. There are plenty of options for fizzy drinks that are actually healthy for you.
Let’s take a little dive into soda and why they are so bad for you, and then help you find a few alternatives that are good for you and crazy freakin’ delicious.
Here we go!
What Is So Bad About Regular Soda?
It is no secret that soda is bad for you. It doesn’t take a doctor to know, sugary soft drinks, caffeine-filled energy drinks, and other sugary drinks loaded up with artificial ingredients and preservatives are not the best thing for your health on any given day.
You know sucralose-heavy drinks like soda and fruit punch can harm your tooth enamel and maybe even make you break out, but why exactly sugary soda is bad for you is less well known. So let's go over the facts and learn what soda does that is so harmful to our bodies.
Soda Contributes to Weight Gain
Soda is typically very high in sucrose, better known as simple table sugar. And sucrose ingested in food leads to high levels of the simple sugar fructose in your body.
Fructose does not decrease the production of ghrelin, one of the strongest hunger hormones in our body. Glucose, which is the kind of sugar our body produces by digesting starches like potatoes, does increase fullness by lowering ghrelin levels.
Not only does soda not make you feel any fuller, but it is also very high in calories. This can lead to weight gain, as you would be consuming more calories that don’t make you feel full.
Numerous studies find that people who are in the habit of drinking sugary sodas gain more weight than people who do not.
This combination of high calories and low satiety makes sugary sodas a dangerous addition to your diet if you are trying to manage your weight. They may even contribute to childhood obesity.
Sugary Sodas Contribute to Insulin Resistance
Insulin is the hormone that allows your body to use the sugar in your blood for energy. However, the more sugar that ends up in your blood, the more you are more likely to develop insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is a result of your cells not responding to insulin trying to drive sugar into the cells. This means your blood sugar remains elevated, and your body produces even more insulin to try and get rid of it.
Insulin resistance leaves you at major risk of developing type 2 diabetes. One study found that even moderate intake of fructose led to a measurable increase in insulin resistance.
Avoiding sodas will help you avoid consuming too much fructose and suffering the consequences.
Sugary Sodas Can Be Addictive
Sugar stimulates the release of dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is the chemical that drives the reward system in your brain, sending you the signal that you have done something good.
The human brain is designed to seek out activities that release dopamine. This is what drives most drug addictions. It seems that sugar may impact the brain in the same exact way.
While the research is still ongoing for humans, studies on rats have concluded that sugar can be physically addictive, like cocaine and heroin.
These are just three of the major concerns that come with consuming sugary sodas. The research is clear that there are real consequences to consuming soft drinks regularly.
If you find that you are drinking sugary sodas multiple times per week, it may be best for your health to replace your soda with something else.
What Are the Healthiest and Most Delicious Soda Alternatives?
If soda is no good for you, what is good for you that is still great tasting and has those fizzy bubbles we all know and love?
Well lucky for you, there are a few great options for healthier soda alternatives that taste great and are actually beneficial to your health! Without further ado, here are three of our favorite soda alternatives.
Sparkling water is an amazing alternative to sugary sodas. Sparkling water, also called carbonated water, is water that has been infused with carbon dioxide. This is what gives sodas and other fizzy drinks their bubbles.
Keep in mind that sparkling water goes by many names: soda water, club soda, seltzer water, and fizzy water—but tonic water is not the same. Tonic water contains quinine and usually some added grams of sugar to provide flavoring like cucumber or lime. Others are flavored with natural orange juice or other fruit juices to reduce added sugar.
Sparkling water has all sorts of health benefits as well, like improving digestion and even increasing satiety.
In one study, healthy young women felt fuller after consuming sparkling water than they did after consuming still water.
So if you are looking to kick a soda habit, sparkling water may help you replace your habit. If you want to add a little extra flavor to your sparkling water, adding some fruit juice can give you an extra healthy pop.
Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that has been around for hundreds and hundreds of years. The fermentation process of kombucha does two great things. First, it gives kombucha a natural carbonation—yay, bubbles! Secondly, it gives kombucha probiotic properties.
Probiotics are the helpful gut bacteria that live in your digestive tract that aid in digestion and all sorts of other incredible functions in your body.
Kombucha is also rich in antioxidants, which help fight oxidative stress. And studies also indicate that antioxidants from natural foods and drinks are better for you than supplements, making drinking kombucha even better for you.
And kombucha can even decrease LDL cholesterol while increasing the good HDL cholesterol in your blood in as little as 30 days. Lower cholesterol levels have been linked to a decreased risk of heart disease.
Give kombucha a try to replace those sodas with high sugar content and no real vitamins or minerals and see how much better you feel.
VINA Prebiotic Soda
Another great sugary soda alternative is our very own VINA prebiotic sodas. Our sodas contain prebiotic fiber, the main food source for the healthy bacteria in your gut that keep you going.
And VINA is sweetened with stevia, a natural, zero-calorie sweetener with none of the negative effects of fructose. All of our sodas are flavored with natural juices and extracts so that you can finally drink a soda that tastes great and is great for you.
No more sodas that are full of teaspoons of sugar and empty calories. Say hello to VINA and a new world of sodas crafted to work with your body instead of against it.
If you want to learn more or check us out, you can find more about us at VINA right here.
Takeaways and Conclusions
Sugary sodas may taste delicious, but they are also quite unhealthy. Sugary sodas are very high in calories and incredibly low in other nutrients to make them worthwhile.
Sugary sodas also contribute to weight gain and insulin resistance and can be addictive. Avoiding soda doesn’t have to mean avoiding bubbly drinks. There are plenty of soda alternatives that are great for you. Try sparkling water, kombucha, or VINA prebiotic sodas to curb your sugary soda habits.
Drinking carbonated drinks is fun; the bubbles make your tongue dance and add a whole extra dimension to your drink. Choosing healthier drinks doesn’t have to mean giving up the bubbles.
Effects of fructose vs glucose on regional cerebral blood flow in brain regions involved with appetite and reward pathways | NIH
Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Obesity Risk in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Analysis on How Methodological Quality May Influence Conclusions | NIH
Moderate Amounts of Fructose Consumption Impair Insulin Sensitivity in Healthy Young Men | NIH
Neurobiology of food addiction | NIH
Evidence for sugar addiction: Behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake | NIH
The effects of carbonated water upon gastric and cardiac activities and fullness in healthy young women | NIH
Surviving antioxidant supplements | NIH
Hypoglycemic and antilipidemic properties of kombucha tea in alloxan-induced diabetic rats | NIH