While sodas might offer uplifting and thirst-quenching satisfaction, everybody knows that caffeine-filled, sugar-saturated sodas are terrible for you. They damage your brain cells, your metabolism, and your heart. They’re one of the main drivers of the developed world’s obesity epidemic. They’ll probably give your child ADHD1. Is there anything these beverages can’t do?
In this article, we’ll explore the science behind the adverse health effects of sugary drinks, specifically those caused by sugar, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), and artificial sweeteners.
So join us for a deep dive into why you should quit your soda habit. Plus, we’ll provide some helpful tips to help get you there!
Sugar? High-Fructose Corn Syrup? Artificial Sweeteners? Are any of these OK?!
According to the World Health Organization, your average can of non-diet soda contains 40 grams of free sugars – The equivalent of 10 teaspoons of table sugar. We’ve said it many times, and we’ll repeat it once more: Processed sugar is bad for you2, leading to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. But sometimes, knowing that just isn’t enough to influence us to change our behaviours.
But what if I told you that HFCS isn’t any better, causing stroke, dementia, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and early aging? And that diet sodas are still terrible, contrary to popular belief, with science confirming that chemical sweeteners have toxic effects on the body and mind?
The Dangers of High-Fructose Corn Syrup
Sugary drinks are just plain harmful3, but this is especially true of those sweetened with HFCS, which many companies are subbing in as a cheaper alternative to sugar. Unfortunately, there is increasing evidence that fructose can have frightening health effects.
This is because your body metabolizes fructose differently, increasing lipogenesis (fat production)3. In fact, studies4 have shown that excess fructose ingestion is linked with most chronic diseases and symptoms of metabolic syndrome.
Fructose has a hand in causing:
- Diabetes & insulin resistance;
- Metabolic syndrome;
- Kidney disease;
- Sleep disorders;
We know what you’re thinking: Since fructose is the sugar that sweetens fruit, should you avoid fruit as well? Not to worry. According to scientists4, in fruit, fructose is accompanied by antioxidants, flavonols, potassium, vitamins, and fibre, which far outweigh the negative consequences that might be caused by the small amounts of fructose. So the problem is less the molecule itself as its excessive quantities in highly-processed foods.
The Toxic Effects of Aspartame
Ok, so what about diet sodas? There’s no sugar, so they can’t be unhealthy, right?
In a study5 published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, aspartame, the main ingredient used in diet drinks, was linked to:
And in chronic cases, it can cause…
- Memory loss
Scientists6 have found that aspartame alters your delicate brain chemistry by boosting methanol production, increasing oxidative stress levels. This leads to the degeneration of fragile brain cells and causes the issues listed above.
Sugary beverages are harmful to your body. Period. And if you’re pregnant, under the age of 18, or suffering from any kind of mental or physical illnesses, you need to stop drinking them ASAP.
But how to kick a habit you’ve had for years?
Well, the process of forming new habits can be made easier with the right approach7. Below are some life-changing tips based on the best and most effective habit change research.
Reach for something healthy instead.
When you crave a soda, this is your bad habit rearing its head. But you decide whether you give in or not. Reach for something healthy instead! If it’s the carbonation you crave, try sparkling water. If it’s the sugar, reach for a piece of fruit, or make yourself a lemonade with maple syrup and lemon juice.
Wait it out.
Habit science shows that cravings will fizzle out within 10-15 minutes on their own unless you actively give them your attention. Wait it out by engaging in an activity you enjoy.
Examine your thoughts
Sometimes, our thoughts can make cravings more intense than they need to be. (E.g., “I’ll never be able to resist this…” or “Think how delicious that would taste…”) So take a moment to examine your thinking. If your thoughts are making you hold on to your soda craving, its intensity will only increase – And you will find it more challenging to resist.
Avoid potential triggers
The easiest way to resist persistent cravings is to avoid people and situations that trigger them. In the case of sugary drinks, this is relatively simple: Stop buying them! Without sugary beverages in the house, you’ll have no choice but to stop drinking them.
The more you resist your cravings, the easier it will be the next time. And the more healthy food you eat, the more your body will crave nourishment. So don’t worry: It gets easier. And every little step in the right direction moves you closer to forming new, healthier habits.
Today’s Daily Action
Are you struggling to make addictive, processed junk foods a thing of the past? We know it can be difficult to change – Life always seems to get in the way. That’s why we developed the Real Food Love app, a mobile app designed to provide you with the tools you need to lead a healthier, more fulfilling lifestyle.
Quickly conquer your junk food habit thanks to tried and trusted tips to minimize your cravings, made for every occasion and state of mind. And remember – 21 days is all the time you need to break a habit. So, are you ready to evolve with us?