Are the ‘healthy’ fizzy drink options any good?
There are countless ‘healthy’ fizzy drink options in the market, but do they actually offer any benefits over their full-fat counterparts?
At the end of each of our cryolipolysis sessions, you will be firmly instructed to stay consistently hydrated, drinking up to 2-3 litres of fluids daily. The fact remains that there is no substitute for water. However, too much of anything (no matter how sensible) can eventually start to feel tiresome.
When told to drink lots of fluids, many of us tend to turn to other pleasant-tasting beverages like juice, smoothies, tea, and carbonated beverages. After all, they are all drinkable, tasty liquids that help maintain the body’s hydration. Although none are quite precisely the right substitutes for water, it is the fizzy drinks that have the worst reputation.
Over the years, carbonated drinks have acquired notoriety for their high sugar content and contribution to health hazards such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, among others. The high-fructose corn syrup found in the most popular ones raises the blood sugar levels while swiftly turning into fat.
Obviously, there have also been claims highlighting the health benefits of soft drinks; one time, the American Heart Association stated that the amount of caffeine found in sodas tends to boost brain function. Even if one were to focus on the benefits of these beverages, the risks still outweigh the benefits.
The ‘healthier’ soft drink choices
In order to break the taboo on soft drinks and provide consumers with more choices, manufacturers have been selling ‘diet’ or ‘healthy’ alternatives alongside their full-flavour fare for quite some time now. If looked at closely, these healthy substitutes mostly replace the sugar content with artificial sweeteners. Replacing sugar with the likes of aspartame and saccharin is not without controversy and distrust either.
The diet drinks
The most common and longest existing low-sugar alternatives are the diet carbonated beverages. These are ideal for consumers who have health conditions that require them to restrict sugar intake. They are also pretty much perfect for the health-conscious folk who are fond of the sweet, fizzy taste but are not keen on ingesting the extra calories. Plus, there is substantially less decay in terms of dental health due to considerably less (or completely absent) sugar.
Nevertheless, it is not all pros either.
The artificial sweeteners in these drinks activate the brain’s reward centres which otherwise react to sugar. But they do not provide any significant calories, thus no energy either. Subsequently, it becomes difficult for the brain to regulate energy. According to a 2014 study, people who are used to drinking sugar-less or low-sugar soft drinks tend to consume more solid foods to achieve the calories compared to drinkers of sugary drinks.
Soft drinks with added vitamins
Many soft drinks, of both regular and diet varieties, are marketed as health drinks. These fizzy beverages are fortified with various vitamins like B3, B6, B12 and E.
While these drinks may provide you with nutrients and can contribute to your overall wellbeing, they still present the same drawbacks when consumed excessively as soft drinks without vitamin enrichment.
Drinks with ‘natural’ sweeteners
Another sugar-free/low-sugar soft drink option are the ones labelled as containing ‘natural’ sweeteners. These drinks supposedly contain fruit juice, cane sugar, or naturally occurring sweeteners such as stevia.
Though relating ‘natural’ with ‘healthy’ is instinctive, there is no adequate evidence that shows that ‘natural’ sugars or sweeteners are safer for your health than high-fructose corn syrup.
Moreover, any type of added sugar, ‘natural’ or otherwise, when taken excessively, will lead to diabetes, obesity, and dental issues, among other problems.
End of the day, water is still the best and most neutral choice to stay hydrated. However, if you want to mix things up with soft drinks here and there, be sure to do so in moderation. Whether the soft drinks are full-fat or diet, consuming either in excess will result in risks to your health.