Whether you're trying to watch your sugar intake, avoid artificial sweeteners or just live healthier overall, you've probably wondered what kind of alternatives there are for the sugar-laden, chemical-filled drink that is soda. There's no shortage of reasons to drop this drink, but when the fizz and flavor have been a part of your life for a long time, it can be tough to drop it altogether.
One convenient way to get away from the negative health effects of soda is to find a soda alternative that can scratch that itch without all the unhealthy ingredients. Even better, you can often find soda alternatives that have added health benefits, such as anti-inflammatory or energy-boosting properties. We've put together some helpful information on ditching the soda habit and finding enjoyable alternatives to help you make the most of your hydration method of choice.
Why Should You Look for Alternatives to Soda?
When we consider why soda alternatives are so useful, we have to look at two different angles — what you can avoid when you quit drinking soda and what you can gain. The following are examples of what you can avoid when you find alternatives to soft drinks:
- Increased risk for health problems: Sugar-sweetened beverages have long been associated with increased risk for obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Other potential problems that soda has been linked to include osteoporosis and memory problems like Alzheimer's.
- Dangerous chemicals: Soda contains potentially carcinogenic additives like caramel coloring and, in the diet varieties, artificial sweeteners. Caramel coloring often comes from 4-methylimidazole. This chemical is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but it is a possible carcinogen for humans. There are other possible additions like brominated vegetable oil that are banned across the pond but completely legal in the U.S. Artificial sweeteners can have a variety of negative effects on blood sugar and insulin, too.
- Poor satiation and nutritional value: Sugary drinks just don't make you feel full — the calories add up, but the filling effects don't. Essentially, the drinks offer empty calories with no nutrients. They also don't contain any fiber, an important component in feeling full. Sugar-sweetened beverages don't do you any favors when it comes to feeling the satiating effects of the calories you're consuming. They also don't provide hydration, and instead make you thirstier.
- Boosts belly fat: For many, it seems like everything we eat goes straight to the midsection. Soda could be to blame. The fructose found in sodas has been linked to visceral fat, or belly fat, while other forms of sugar don't hit the same areas.
- Addictive: It might sound over-dramatic to say soda is addictive, but it really can be! While soda dependence might be a more appropriate term, soda has several habit-forming ingredients like sugar, which releases dopamine, and caffeine, which causes withdrawal symptoms like headaches and irritability if not consumed regularly. These are two big components that often keep people coming back, along with some psychological factors.
- Bad for your teeth: If your dentist has ever asked you how much soda you drink, you know soda plays a big role in dental health. The acids, like carbonic and phosphoric acid, and sugar create the perfect environment for bad bacteria to grow in your mouth, causing tooth decay and sensitivity.
Sugar and artificial sweeteners have lots of negative effects on our health, impacting everything from our mood to our bone density. Naturally, cutting sugars and artificial sweeteners out can help you make big changes.
Aside from eliminating the many problems associated with soda, some of the alternatives we suggest offer added benefits, like probiotics, anti-inflammatory ingredients and naturally sourced nutrients. Plus, they're a huge asset to have in your corner when trying to ditch the habit. Being able to replace your craving for soda with something else can be helpful when staying away from it.
What Happens When You Stop Drinking Soda?
When you kick the soda habit, you may start seeing many benefits — but not straight away. If you've been drinking soda for a long time, there's a good chance you'll experience some withdrawal effects, like cravings, headaches and irritability. Fortunately, these effects don't last too long, usually between two and nine days.
A few ways to make this process easier is to wean yourself off of soda. Stopping cold turkey can be rough, but drinking lots of water and using the healthier substitutions listed in the next section can help give you your "fix" without the negative effects.
Once you've powered through the first week or so, you can start seeing some long-term benefits, such as:
- Reduced risk for various health problems: While it can take some time to undo the damage of soda, you can start reducing your risk for heart diseases, memory problems, osteoporosis, kidney problems and obesity when you eliminate these sugary drinks from your diet.
- Improved oral health: Protect your teeth better and limit the discoloring effects of soda. You can keep your pearly whites pearly instead of yellow and dull when you drop soda.
- Weight loss: Cutting out empty calories may do wonders for your waistline, especially in terms of reducing belly fat.
- Better sleep: It's no surprise that caffeine can keep you up or decrease your sleep quality. When you drop soda, you might have an easier time falling asleep at night.
- Clearer skin: All that added sugar isn't great for your skin. If you've ever noticed that after a soda-heavy day you start to break out, you know just how this works.
- More energy: While soda might give you an initial rush of energy, that boost can quickly drop off and leave you sluggish, looking for another pick-me-up. Many soda alternatives can help you find the energy you need without the crashing effects.
- Better-tasting food: Okay, stay with us here. All the sugar in soda can alter your sense of taste to the point where many things that aren't overly sweet won't taste as good as they should. Kicking soda can help you get that taste back and enjoy other foods even more.
- A better immune system: All those added sugars can have an inflammatory effect and increase your risk of infection. If you cut soda, you might find fewer sick days in your future.
What Are the Best Alternatives to Soda?
The things that draw us to soda can be multifactored. Are you looking for a citrusy kick, carbonation or caffeine? Or are you more focused on taking advantage of the health benefits of alternative drinks? Whatever you find appealing about your drink, there's a great healthy alternative out there.
1. Sparkling Water
If the bubbles are what you're after, consider sparkling water or seltzer water. These fizzy drinks come in a massive range of flavors and can allow you to enjoy a bubbly kick. Plus, many of them come in a can for a soda-like experience. You can also mix them with juice to give your drink additional body and flavor.
Tea is a great way to find natural energy and reduce your risk for many health problems, like heart disease, cancer and inflammation. You can drink it iced if you want something more refreshing or warm for a cozier drink.
Here are some varieties of tea and their benefits:
- Green tea: Green tea and its flavonoids are excellent for heart health and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Herbal teas: The addition of some tasty and healthy herbs to a cup of tea can cultivate the right drink for you. Chamomile tea is known for its calming effects, while ginger and peppermint tea are great for settling your stomach.
- Oolong: Oolong tea has L-theanine in it, an amino acid known to help reduce anxiety and increase alertness and attention. It's also a good anti-inflammatory tea.
- Black: Made from the same plant as green tea, black tea also has flavonoids for addressing heart function and inflammation.
- White: White tea is packed with antioxidants and has the least amount of caffeine, so if you're trying to reduce your intake without getting rid of caffeine entirely, white tea can be a good choice. It even has substances like fluoride and tannins that can help boost your oral health.
Lemonade makes a good soda substitute because it has a sharp acidic flavor and refreshing taste that many of us are after. It doesn't have caffeine, and if you purchase the right variety, it won't have a lot of added sugar. Lemonade can be a tricky one because you'll often find the drink is filled with artificial preservatives or more added sugar than the soda you were trying to quit drinking. It may not be the lowest-calorie option either, and there will always be at least a bit of sugar.
If you can find a brand without large amounts of sugar, lemonade can help you scratch the itch and offer a refreshing, summery flavor.
Kombucha is an interesting and ancient drink that's gained a lot of popularity lately. It's a type of tea, usually black or green tea, that's been fermented with a collection of bacteria and yeast that are said to give it probiotic benefits. Probiotics are a significant factor in good digestive health, and kombucha is well-touted for these benefits. Kombucha can offer antioxidant benefits, make heart health improvements and fight bad bacteria.
5. Flavored Water
Water is great, but if you liked it as much as you like soda, you wouldn't be looking for alternatives. So add some flavor, whether that's through natural sources like lemon juice and fresh fruit infusions or waters purchased in the store with natural flavoring added. Flavored water can be a useful tool to help you drink more and stay hydrated.
You can also consider certain types of waters like coconut water and mineral waters, which are packed with nutrients like fiber, potassium and various minerals.
Fruit juices can help you get your produce in for the day, but, like lemonade, you'll want to look for low-sugar versions. Many versions are full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Though coffee won't help you break a caffeine habit, it can be an easier way to get an energy boost without the sugar. There are many types of coffee out there, and if you can avoid excessive amounts of creamer or syrup, it offers a flavorful and energy-boosting drink to replace your sugary soda. Just don't drink coffee too close to bedtime if you want to prevent it from keeping you up at night.
8. Nutrient-Packed Drinks
One way to get a lot of health benefits out of your soda substitute is to get special drinks, usually juices or waters, crammed with nutrients designed for specific health goals. ZYN, for instance, is built with ingredients like CURCUMIN that have been shown to help battle inflammation and boost your immune system. These ingredients go right to work while ZYN provides natural energy-boosting refreshment and delightful flavors that can replace your craving for sugary drinks.
Try ZYN Instead of Soda
ZYN's tasty nutritional advantages come from three powerful additions to the drink:
- Curcumin: CURCUMIN comes from Turmeric and features many benefits, like addressing inflammation associated with many common ailments, including muscle soreness, osteoarthritis and heart disease. It's also an excellent antioxidant and stimulates the body's natural antioxidant enzymes. Other benefits of Turmeric include improved brain functioning, reduced arthritis and depression symptoms, and lower risk of — and possibly even treatment for — cancer, Alzheimer's and heart disease.
- Piperine: Black pepper can do more than help you make a great dish for dinner. The bioavailability of Turmeric — meaning how easily it's absorbed — is drastically improved with Piperine, a compound found in black pepper. Piperine can boost absorption by up to 2,000%! We've added Piperine to help you feel the full effects of CURCUMIN.
- Vitamins D and C: Modern diets make it so many of us don't get the vitamins we need through food alone, which is where fortification comes in handy. ZYN has 50% of the recommended dose of vitamin D and 120% of vitamin C. Vitamin D is involved in bone strength, insulin levels and the health of your lungs, cardiovascular system, immune system and nervous system. Vitamin C is well-known for its role in immune health, but it can also help in many other areas, like cardiovascular health, allergies and eye health.
ZYN has plenty of the good stuff, and we keep all the bad stuff out — no artificial preservatives, sweeteners, flavors or colors. Just 100% natural, plant-based goodness. It comes in classic bottled drinks, as well as our new daily wellness drink mixes for easy on-the-go flavor. Plus, we're non-GMO Project verified and prioritize sustainability, so you can feel good about your purchase. Learn more about the ZYN difference on our blog!
ZYN Comes in 8 Delicious Flavors — Try for Yourself Today and Start Feeling AmaZYN!
If it's time for you to cut the soda from your diet, give ZYN a try and see for yourself how good it feels. With eight exciting flavors like Lemon Ginger and Strawberry Yuzu, you're sure to find something you love. With ZYN, you can kick the soda habit while taking advantage of CURCUMIN, Piperine and added vitamins for inflammation, recovery and other potential health benefits. Whatever your reason for reducing sugar in your diet, ZYN's ayurvedic approach is a great way to get more out of your soda substitute.