We all know that drinking enough water every day is essential. However, drinking lots of water doesn’t negate all the other things you drink throughout the day. The water might keep your body hydrated, but the other beverages you choose to drink can have different harmful effects on your body.
And today, there are so many different beverage choices available that it’s not uncommon for someone to consume multiple different types of drinks in a single day. There is soda, juice, tea, sports drinks, energy drinks, coffee, flavored fizzy drinks, and alcohol—just to name a few—all of which can be loaded with calories, sugars, and other unhealthy ingredients.
Unfortunately, drinking too many high-calorie sugary drinks throughout the day can lead to health problems down the road. But if you’re someone who likes to have a variety of drink options, understandably, it can be hard to go cold turkey and just drink water.
So, what can you do to change your daily beverage habits to improve your health? Let’s dive in and find out.
The Health Risks of Poor Beverage Habits
First, let’s consider the harmful effects of poor beverage choices to give you a better understanding of why you should start rethinking what you’re drinking.
There is a lot of sugar and calories in the majority of popular beverages available in America today. Sports drinks have five teaspoons of added sugar, energy drinks have nine teaspoons, and a can of soda has ten, as do most fruit juice drinks. Most coffee drinks that people consume today also have loads of added sugar because of the creamers and sweeteners that are added in.
But the average person is only supposed to consume less than 10% of added sugars a day as a part of their total daily calories. So if you eat a 1,800-calorie diet, less than 180 calories should come from sources of added sugar. But with our culture’s obsession with different kinds of beverages, most people blow past that recommendation.
Unfortunately, when you consistently drink sugary, high-calorie drinks, you are more likely to face health issues, such as type-2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, poor oral health, gout, and even certain types of arthritis.
Alcohol as well can also be a big problem because not only do a lot of alcoholic drinks have tons of sugar in them, but the alcohol itself is also bad for the body. Frequent drinking, even if you aren’t always drinking enough to get drunk, can impact the nervous system and contribute to depression. It can mess with your gut and cause a whole host of digestive issues. And it can impact the circulatory system, which can lead to heart and blood pressure issues.
How to Make Healthier Drink Choices
So, if you’re someone who likes to have a variety of drinks throughout the day, what can you do to make those beverage choices healthier?
Add Supplements to Your Water
If you don’t want to simply drink plain water all day but want to avoid added sugars, try adding healthy mixes, powders, and supplements to your water. Store-bought juices often have a myriad of added ingredients that aren’t good for you. But you can often get the same taste by adding nutrient-rich “mixins” to your water.
For example, greens powders are loaded with nutrients and can easily be added to your water for a more flavorful drink. This is also a great way to get more fruits and veggies into your diet. And you can even add in a little bit of a natural sweetener without overloading on added sugars.
You can also add in other types of supplemental powders, like collagen powder, to give your drinks a healthier boost. Collagen can easily be mixed into teas, coffee, water, and other beverages.
Opt for Fizzy Drinks With Natural Flavoring
Carbonated waters and seltzers are all the rage today, but many of these drinks have added sugars that aren’t from natural sources. So instead of buying your usual pack of flavored seltzers, consider buying carbonated beverages without any flavor and adding in your own splash of 100% fruit juice at home.
Switch-Up Your Coffee Additives
If you’re a big coffee drinker, and you don’t drink it black, then chances are you are consuming loads of sugar and calories from just one or two coffee drinks a day. While coffee on its own is made of healthy compounds, all of the added creams, sugars, syrups, and other artificial flavorings can make it like a sugar bomb in a mug.
So instead of reaching for your usual coffee accoutrements, try opting for low or no-calorie natural sweeteners and creamers instead, like Splenda. Or use natural, unsweetened milks for a creamier consistency. You can also flavor your coffee on your own using natural spices like cinnamon or cocoa instead of buying pre-mixed flavorings, which are usually loaded with sugars.
Try a Smoothie Instead of Fruit Juices
If you are a big fan of fruit juices, try making smoothies or juicing your own fruits and veggies instead. Most store-bought fruit and vegetable juices have tons of sugar or sodium, as well as other less-than-stellar ingredients. But you can easily get the same great taste by making your own smoothies and juices at home.
There are lots of fruits and vegetables that make for great smoothies and even juices—many that you might not initially think of—such as zucchini, yellow squash, and beets. And not only is this a great way to fill up on healthier foods in general and drink healthier, but it’s also a great way to make use of fruits and veggies that are about to go bad that you might otherwise throw out.
These are just some of the many ways you can start making changes to your daily beverage habits. But a good place to start is to line up everything you drink in a day and check out the labels. If the added sugars are more than 10% of your daily calories, then it might be time to consider some changes. And this doesn’t mean you need to cut everything out, but finding ways to reduce your sugar intake and swap in things with more nutrients can make a huge difference.
Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, and fitness-related content. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.
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