If you’ve ever wondered how bad soda really is for you, pour a glass of cola, drop a leftover chicken bone in it and let it sit overnight. By the next morning, the bone will have dissolved in the drink. The reasons that soda is unhealthy are wide and varied. Regular soda has come under scrutiny for its use of high-fructose corn syrup, a cheap replacement for cane sugar. The fructose in HFCS gets processed by the liver, and whatever amount of fructose it can’t process gets turned into fat, according to Shape magazine. In addition, the amount of sugar in a can of soda exceeds the daily amount recommended by the Food and Drug Administration. While some soda companies are switching to low- or no-calorie sweeteners, they raise more questions about whether they are, in fact, healthier.
If the prospect of cutting off your relationship with soda cold turkey has you panicking, try these natural sodas. They avoid artificial dyes and include better-for-you ingredients like stevia and ginger.
This recipe from Yahoo! is almost too easy: Choose your favorite fruit – whether it’s strawberries, honeydew or blueberries – and puree three cups’ worth of it. Then add 1 1/2 cups of water to the puree. Voila! You can pour this agua fresca in a bottle the night before and grab it on your way into the office. If you’ll miss the fizziness of traditional soda, add seltzer water to taste – just make sure to check the ingredient list. Some flavored seltzers will use aspartame or HFCS for sweetness, additives that should be avoided.
Coconut water is an excellent source of hydration, providing an additional source of electrolytes, making it ideal for when you’re in the middle of a spin class. However, it has a very polarizing taste that isn’t for everyone. Add a twist of lemon or mashed up strawberries for a delicious addition.
Green Juice or smoothie
Juicing has become a phenomenon in the world of healthy eating. Fight the temptation of grabbing a bottled version in your local supermarket, as it will likely be loaded with sugar. Instead, throw in your favorite fruits with a handful of spinach or kale into a blender or juicer. A smoothie will keep you feeling fuller longer than a glass of soda – and you’ll also get some important vitamins and nutrients.
These come in many forms, like this homemade fermented ginger ale from food blogger Wellness Mama. It’s the best of both worlds, with both the fizziness of soda and the probiotic benefits to keep your digestive system happy. Kombucha, another popular fermented drink, has a vinegar-like taste to it. However, it’s worth getting used to, as it is full of B vitamins, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Since there are so many healthy alternatives to soda, you can kick the habit and still be satisfied.