So you’ve heard about the dangers of soft drinks to your brain, your heart and your waistline – but that doesn’t answer your question, “what can I drink instead?” We’re here to unpack a few delicious alternatives that won’t spike your blood sugar; on the contrary, they’ll actually work wonders on your health (and your taste buds too).
Soft drinks are notorious for their high sugar content, typically in the form of high-fructose corn syrup or table sugar – the result? When you take a sip of your favourite fizzy drink, your blood sugar levels spike rapidly. This sudden surge in blood sugar triggers the pancreas to release insulin, a hormone that helps transport sugar into cells for energy or storage. That doesn’t sound too bad, right? Well, repeated consumption of sugary drinks can lead to insulin resistance, where cells become less responsive to insulin – you probably know where this is going – over time, this can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes. In the short-term, however, you’re likely to notice an energy crash not long after the initial high wears off. The regular consumption of sugary soft drinks has also been strongly linked to weight gain and obesity. Additionally, high-fructose corn syrup, a common sweetener in soft drinks, may have unique effects on metabolism that promote fat storage in the abdominal area.
Consuming sugary soft drinks is associated with an increased risk of heart disease. High sugar intake can lead to elevated levels of triglycerides (a type of blood fat), reduced levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, and higher levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol. These changes in lipid profile are risk factors for heart disease. Additionally, the excess calories from sugary drinks can contribute to obesity, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.
Soft drink consumption is a common contributor to metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke. Metabolic syndrome is characterised by abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and abnormal lipid profiles—all of which can be exacerbated by the consumption of sugary soft drinks. But it’s not just about the physical effects – soft drink consumption has been linked to low mood and disorders like anxiety. Studies have shown rates of depression are greater in those who eat a high-sugar diet, while another study shows anxiety is reported in higher numbers in people over 60 who consume sugar in excess. One study found people who drank 2 soft drinks a day had stress hormone levels 22% higher than those who did not. So, what can you drink instead? Let’s find out.
Sparkling Water with Citrus
If it’s that carbonated fizz you’re craving, sparkling water will do the drink – and the best part is, you can flavour it however you’d like. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon, lime or orange for a burst of natural flavour. You can even experiment with other fruits like berries or cucumber for a unique twist.
Herbal teas are a fantastic alternative to soft drinks. They come in various flavours and are often caffeine-free. Try options like chamomile, peppermint, hibiscus, or ginger tea. You can enjoy them hot or cold – pour your tea over ice to give your favourite soft drinks a run for their money. If you’d like a tea with a little more sweetness, try mountain tea – this Greek flower has been shown to regulate blood-sugar levels by inhibiting the enzymes responsible for breaking down carbohydrates into simple sugars. This can prevent sudden spikes in blood-sugar levels, which can lead to cravings for sugary foods. This tea may also help reduce appetite by increasing the production of the hormone leptin, which signals to the brain that the body has had enough to eat. This can help prevent overeating and reduce cravings for sugary foods.
Create your own naturally flavoured water by infusing it with fruits, herbs, or vegetables. Popular combinations include cucumber and mint, strawberry and basil, or lemon and rosemary. Let the flavours meld in the fridge for a refreshing beverage.
Kombucha is a fermented tea that offers a tangy, slightly effervescent taste. It contains probiotics, which can be beneficial for gut health. Just be mindful of the sugar content, as some commercial varieties can be sweetened. Want to learn how to make it yourself? Join us for our ALL NEW 21-Day Gut Rebalance Program with nourishing recipes and exclusive expert content to support you on your way to better health. Whether it's constipation, bloating or even stress that's got you down, it could be your gut warning you that you're missing out on the gut-nourishing foods that help us thrive. We'll show you the ins and outs of healing, from the benefits of probiotics and prebiotics to the inflammation-busting foods you should be eating.
Coconut water is a natural source of electrolytes and has a mildly sweet taste. It's a great choice for staying hydrated, especially after exercise. Look for brands with no added sugar. Along with being a healthy alternative to soft drinks, coconut water contains micronutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin B-complex, and amino acids. These nutrients play a role in hydration, and they have high bioavailability, meaning they are easily absorbed and utilised by the body. This makes coconut water an efficient choice for replenishing lost fluids and nutrients.
Blend up a nutritious fruit smoothie using fresh or frozen fruits, Greek yogurt, and nuts and seeds if you’re so inclined. You can also add spinach or kale for an extra nutrient boost. Smoothies are a satisfying and customisable alternative to sugary soft drinks.
Remember that water remains the best choice for staying hydrated throughout the day. But when you're looking for a bit more flavour and variety, these alternatives can provide a tasty and healthier option than traditional soft drinks. Plus, they offer the benefit of natural ingredients and fewer added sugars.
If you’re after something a little fancier, give No Ugly tonics a try! Whether you’re after probiotics or hydration-boosting ingredients, they’ve got a drink for you. Take a look at the delicious options they’ve got:
- Calm: With ashwagandha, chamomile and vitamin B3, No Ugly’s Calm tonic will fight off stress and replace it with a clear mind and a relaxed energy.
- Focus: This delicious drink is bursting with the tart sweetness of blackcurrants. If you’re looking to hone your cognitive skills and fight the fog, this is the drink for you. With vitamin B5 for mental performance and B12 for energy and clarity, you’ll be on your way to peak focus.
- Immunity: Many of us find ourselves indulging in junk food or alcohol a little too often, which can throw our gut and immunity out of whack. That’s where No Ugly comes in, with their anti-inflammatory ingredients to keep your system going strong.
- Detox: Give your liver a boost with this Detox drink, this one’s especially beneficial for those of you who’ve gone a little overboard on the alcohol.
- Gut: Get a good dose of probiotics in No Ugly’s Gut tonic to boost your digestion and immunity.
- Hydrate: With potassium and magnesium, this drink will have your electrolytes back in good numbers and leave you feeling ready for the day.
- Libido: With zinc for hormone management and maca for energy, you’ll have all you need for a healthy libido.
- Sleep: With muscle-relaxing magnesium and calming passionflower, this tonic is perfect for those restless nights. Get a good night’s sleep with No Ugly’s Sleep tonic so you can achieve your goals tomorrow!
- Skin: With collagen for healthy skin production and antioxidising vitamin C, you’ve got the makings of a skin-boosting tonic.
Check their full range out HERE.
Need a little help getting your health back on track? Join us for the 8-Week Program and we’ll help you change the way you look at food – and that doesn’t mean you have to follow restrictive diets or miss out on your favourite foods; we believe you can still enjoy delicious food without jeopardising your health. With celebrity chef Sarah Glover on our panel of experts, you’ll have an array of fun recipes at your fingertips, along with our own exclusive armoury of simple, tasty and healthy recipes for everything from daily meals to impressive entertaining. We know it can be hard to stick to your health goals – especially when you’re trying to manage it alone. When you sign up with us, you’ll have access to clear-cut meal plans, community support and exclusive access to our sugar-free content. Here’s what’s on offer:
- 8 weeks of meal plans and shopping lists.
- 90+ member-only recipes.
- Community forums to share your journey.
- Support and guidance from the I Quit Sugar team.
- Exclusive content from our panel of experts.
So, if you’re ready to ditch sugar and the host of maladies that come with it, it’s not too late to join. We’d love to help you get started on your health journey. Sign up HERE today!