Kid drinking orange soda

Your Guide to Choosing Healthy Drinks for Your Family

Maybe you’ve heard the recent news about a group of pediatricians calling for a tax of sugary sodas to help curb consumption. 

You may have also read recent reports that drinking diet sodas has been linked to health problems like stroke, heart attacks, and even a higher risk of diabetes. 

Or maybe you’ve been warned about giving your kids too much juice, as the extra sugar maylead to cavities.

All of this information can leave you thinking, “What are my children and I supposed to drink?”

Relax! AltaMed’s got you. Learn more about your drink choices, and how to drink them while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

 

Sodas/Colas

A glass of soda and on the side sugar cubes

Soda is full of empty calories meaning there are no nutritional benefits or vitamins in soda. Sugar-sweetened beverages may be the leading dietary cause of Type 2 diabetes.

  • The added calories and sugar in soda can lead to weight gain and obesity, which can lead to diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
  • The sugars and acid in soda are also bad for your teeth, promoting tooth decay, oral disease, and even bad breath.
  • Soda’s mix of sugar and caffeine may make you urinate more frequently, potentially leading to dehydration. 

The bottom line: Consider soda a treat like chocolate cake or a candy bar and only consume it once a month. Soda is not recommended for children still drinking from a bottle.

 

Diet Drinks/Sugar-Free Soda

Woman trying to choose between a glass of water or a glass of soda

People often choose diet soda, thinking it’s a healthier option and that fewer calories can help weight loss efforts. But almost all the research says the opposite: consumption of diet sodas has been tied to weight gain.  This may be because of aspartame, the artificial sweetener used in diet soda. The way diet soda delivers sweetness without providing calories or nutrients may trick thebrain into overeating. Over time, aspartame may also dull your taste buds, so you need increasingly sweet tastes before your brain realizes you’re eating something sweet. 

  • Even though they don’t have sugar, diet sodas have been linked to stroke, diabetes, and increased risk of obesity.
  • Some people experience sensitivity to artificial sweeteners that could result in headaches, nausea, or dizziness. 
  • Added caffeine may make it harder to get a good night’s sleep.

The bottom line: Sip these as sparingly as the full-sugar versions – no more than once or twice a month.

 

Sports Drinks

Sport woman drink a red sport drink

Even though you would think you’re getting something healthy, sports drinks aren’t much better than sodas. It’s true that sports drinks have added nutrients like sodium, potassium, and calcium, but you don’t need them, unless you’re participating in strenuous exercise. 

  • Added sugar could cause obesity or diabetes.
  • Added sodium may elevate blood pressure.
  • Most sports drinks contain food dyes – some of which have been linked to hyperactivity in children.

The bottom line: Unless you or your child is doing vigorous exercise for 30 minutes or longer, skip the sports drinks.

 

Juices

Child trying to reach a juice in the supermarket

Juice seems like it should be all-natural, right? But many juices you buy at the store contain significant amounts of added sugar. Even though it’s made from fruit, juice doesn’t deliver the same nutritional benefits you’d get from eating the whole fruit.

  • Juice delivers a concentrated amount of fruit sugar with none of the fiber. 
  • These extra calories in juice can lead to weight gain and increased risk of diabetes and more.
  • When placed in baby’s bottle, juice can lead to tooth decay.

The bottom line: If you’re going to buy juice, read the label carefully to make sure it has as few ingredients as possible – ideally, just juice from the fruit and nothing more. It is ok to enjoy juice occasionally, but if you’re giving it to a child, make sure you give them a kid-sized portion in a cup, not a bottle!

 

Water

A dad helping his child to get a sip from a drinking fountain

Water should be your whole family’s go-to drink! It’s cheap and free of calories, chemicals, and additives. Here’s a few more reasons why we love water:

  • Water helps keep you hydrated. 
  • It helps you feel full, which could mean eating less and saving calories at meal time. 
  • Drinking water hydrates your skin and your joints from the inside out.

The bottom line: The old advice about drinking eight ounces of water eight times a day isn’t bad advice, but some people might not need quite so much. If you’re athletic, breastfeeding, or living in a hot or humid climate, you may need more.  
 

Looking for more tips on healthy living for you and your family? Bookmark the AltaMed Health and Wellness page! Find articles about making fitness funkid-friendly oral health tipsdisease prevention, and much more.