According to the American Heart Association, nearly 8 out of 10 adults are trying to reduce sugar in their diets—and for good reason. Currently, Americans consume an average of 17 teaspoons of sugar per day, which is significantly higher than the recommended amount.
One of the primary culprits? Sugary beverages like sodas, sweetened teas, coffees, and fruit juices. Though these yummy drinks may give you a temporary energy boost and satisfy a craving, their long-term health risks outweigh the short-term reward when you frequently choose them over water.
Are your beverage habits hindering your hydration goals?
So, what’s the problem with all of these beverages? Besides their high sugar content and lack of nutrients, they’re also highly addictive and may lead to health problems such as tooth decay, obesity, and cardiovascular disease when over-consumed.
The other issue with sugary beverages? They simply won’t satisfy you in the long haul. For example, a 12oz can of Coca-Cola contains 39 grams of sugar—not surprising considering high fructose corn syrup is the second most abundant ingredient (right behind carbonated water).
Sure, you can technically sip on soda and similar beverages to meet your hydration needs, but your body will just learn to crave more and more. When we consume a hefty amount of added sugar in one sitting, our body releases dopamine and serotonin: chemical messengers that make us feel good. And who doesn’t want a surge of these feel-good chemicals? This is what leads to even more sugar cravings in the future.
Consuming high-sugar drinks also causes that familiar (and often dreaded) sugar crash thanks to the work of insulin. When we drink loads of sugary beverages such as soda or juice, our insulin quickly gets to work regulating our blood sugar. Once that insulin has finished its job though, our blood sugar drops significantly, and we’re left feeling drained and sluggish. That afternoon bottle of soda may taste great at the moment, but that feeling is very short lived.
So, how can you break the habit and choose healthier options? Let’s first look at what happens when you cut down on the sugary drinks.
Replacing sugar-filled beverages with water has many health benefits
By replacing your usual glass of soda or fruit juice with water, you’ll be giving your body and mind the hydration it needs. And when you’re well hydrated, you can benefit in the following ways:
Fewer sugar cravings
If it’s 3:00 in the afternoon and you’re dying to rip into a chocolate bar, you may just be thirsty. Studies show that dehydration is a common cause of sugar cravings. By drinking plenty of water throughout the day, you can avoid those breakroom sweets altogether.
Increased mental clarity
73% of the brain is water, so it’s understandable how big an impact hydration has on the body’s most important organ. When we drink water, we’re helping increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain, which in turn, improves cognition. Staying properly hydrated will allow you to think, synthesize, and act at your highest potential.
Helps prevent kidney stones
One of the causes of kidney stones is dehydration. By drinking enough water, your kidneys have a harder time forming the crystals that make up these highly painful, inconvenient deposits. Need another reason to cut the cola? One study found that participants who drank even just one soda per day had a 23% higher chance of developing kidney stones.
Helps your digestive system
Drinking enough water throughout the day also aids significantly in digestion. Water assists in breaking down the food that you eat, which allows your body to absorb the foods’ vital nutrients.
Proper hydration starts with taking action
So, with all of this talk around the benefits of sugar-free hydration, what can you do to actually reap these rewards and lower your sugar intake? Let’s take a look at our favorite ways to stay sufficiently hydrated throughout the day:
Slowly taper off instead of quitting cold turkey
Making drastic lifestyle changes right out of the gate can be challenging to manage long term. Additionally, quitting sugar cold turkey may trigger withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and fatigue. So remember, slow and steady wins the race.
Wean yourself off sugary beverages by decreasing your intake slowly and methodically. If you usually have 3-4 cans of pop a day, try cutting this amount in half for a week and assess how you feel. When you’re ready, you can continue decreasing your soda intake until you’ve reached a goal you’re happy with. Just make sure you’re replacing those missing fluids with water! Which leads us to our next tip…
Find a soda substitute you enjoy
Experts recommend replacing a bad habit with a healthy one to increase your chances of long-term success. Try swapping out your usual can of soda for a healthier beverage.
If the carbonation is what leads you to a cold bottle of cola, flavored seltzer is a great way to go. Since most flavored seltzers are unsweetened, it may take some getting used to. Luckily, there are so many different brands and flavors available, you’re bound to find one you enjoy.
Other popular soda alternatives include lemon water, unsweetened flavored iced tea, and kombucha. Spend some time experimenting with different beverages to find a suitable swap that satisfies your craving.
Make water the convenient option
A great way of kicking a bad habit is by making the healthier alternative more convenient. By keeping water nearby at all times and making soda difficult to access, you’re much more likely to choose water as your main hydration source.
Invest in a reusable water bottle or tumbler and bring it everywhere you go. Reaching for a reusable bottle is far more convenient than stopping at a gas station (or even just opening the fridge) when you’re feeling thirsty.
Find an accountability partner
If you’re motivated by accountability, this may be a great option for you. Inform a close friend or relative about your desire to cut back on sugary beverages. We tend to care deeply about what people think about us, especially friends and family we love.
Looping them in on your goals can do wonders for your long-term success. Plus, there’s always a chance they’d like to join you in your challenge as well.
Hydration doesn’t have to be boring
With a bit of patience and some experimentation, it is possible to cut sugary beverages out of your routine and start living a healthier, more hydrated lifestyle.
And we know we’re biased, but a smart water cooler such as Bevi can help you reach those goals in a simple and sustainable way. With water that delivers a personalized beverage experience in every pour, you’ll be running to refill your bottle time and time again. Fill out our quote form today to see how Bevi can help you hit your health targets.