It used to be that there was nothing I loved more than a refreshing can of Diet Coke on a hot summer day. Now, I would never touch the can of chemicals. If you haven’t given up soda yet, this might convince you: A 2007 study funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute found that one daily soft drink (diet OR regular) is associated with:
• 48% increased risk of metabolic syndrome, a key predecessor of heart disease and diabetes
• 31% greater risk of becoming obese
• 30% higher risk of having a larger waist line
• 25% higher risk of developing high blood triglycerides or high blood sugar
• 32% greater risk of having low levels of good cholesterol
• A trend toward an increased risk of high blood pressure.
I know it can be hard to give up the soda habit, and it’s really important not to trade soda for other unhealthy drinks like Gatorade, Red Bull or Crystal Light. Instead, try one of these healthy and refreshing drinks that won’t hurt your health or widen your waistline:
1. Seltzer with a twist: Add a splash of juice, lemon or lime.
2. Agua Fresca: Puree about 3 cups of watermelon (or cantaloupe, strawberries or mango) and strain the pulp. In a pitcher mix the strained fruit puree with 1.5 cups of water, the juice of 2-3 limes and stevia to taste.
3. Kombucha: This fermented drink is a great, naturally fizzy alternative to soda. You can find it in health food stores, and it comes in many flavors. It contains good bacteria that can help your digestion, instead of harmful chemicals.
4. Virgin Mojito: Mix club soda with lime, mint and stevia to sweeten. Enjoy over ice.
5. Sparkling Mineral Water: San Pellegrino or Mountain Valley Spring Water is another refreshing choice when you want something bubbly.
6. Coconut Water: This liquid that comes from young coconuts is great for replacing electrolytes on hot summer days.
7. Green Juice: Have a green juice over ice for a refreshing snack. This Mojito Green Juice recipe has lime and ginger for a nice tangy kick.
8. Homemade Lemonade: Mix the fresh lemon juice, water, and honey. Or, herbal iced tea with lemon is great too!
9. Protein Shake: A protein shake can be a small meal and a refreshing drink, all in one. I love a Sustain shake spun through the blender with some almond milk, ice and cinnamon.
10. Almond Milk Horchata: Here’s a simple recipe for Paleo Horchata that uses almond milk, raw honey, cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg. I recommend using less honey than what the recipe calls for.
And, of course, when it comes to healthy liquids that help you stop drinking soda, don’t forget about good old-fashioned water! You should aim to consume the equivalent of half your body weight in ounces of water, each day.
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