The 5 Best Alternatives When You Want to Quit Soda
Last updated: November 2020
Do you drink a Coke, Dr. Pepper, or Mountain Dew every day? Soda can be detrimental for our digestive system, immune systems, and overall health. Try out one of these five soda alternatives with the same sparkling flavor punch as your favorite soda to improve your health and wellness today.
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Soda is Appealing
If you’re like me, you love a good soda.
While many people are sometimes partial to Coke or Pepsi, I drink them all. Although, my favorites are Dr. Pepper and Root Beer.
Aside from tasting yummy and having a great carbonated punch, sodas are often associated with feel-good experiences like summer events, parties, and celebrations.
But soda is not good to drink on the regular!
While I still drink soda, upon learning of the negative effects it can have on my body, I cut back my intake by a lot.
We’re talking two to three times a week down to maybe once a month. I intentionally chose to prioritize my physical health and you can too!
How Soda Affects Your Whole-Body Wellness
Soda has negative effects throughout your body, every time you drink it! Let’s talk about some of the specific changes drinking a soda can make, and what many sodas over a period of time can do to your health. Basically, why you might want to choose a soda alternative.
To start, soda often negatively affects your digestive system.
In addition to the amount of sugar, often in the form of high fructose corn syrup, soda also has a high acidity content.
This sugar and acid can eat away at the enamel in your teeth, and disrupt the smooth muscle lining throughout your esophagus and stomach. In short, you might experience discomfort now from the added sugar sitting on your teeth, or the burn of the acid on the way down, but in the long term, if you were to continue to drink soda in high quantities, the top half of your digestive system will experience the effects.
Due to the high sugar content, soda can wear down your immune system functioning for the day, and increase inflammation long term.
Now, the “immune system” isn’t necessarily a full concise system, per say, like your respiratory or digestive systems are, but the parts of your body that perform immune functions will be affected with increased soda consumption.
Why? The main reason is the common inflammation culprit – sugar.
Sugar often causes the majority of inflammation in our bodies, and long term soda consumption is no different. The sugar in soda that you drink every day can lead to inflammation in your body, which results in greater susceptibility to viruses, diseases, and autoimmune responses.
Now, in addition to these specific effects on your digestive system and immune functioning, soda just isn’t good for your overall health.
You could gain weight, experience fatigue after sugar rushes, experience disrupted sleep, and become dehydrated all just from soda.
So, what’s a girl to do who loves a good carbonated beverage? Let’s check out these healthy soda alternatives that helped me curb my daily craving for Coke, Dr. Pepper, and Root Beer.
Soda Alternative Criteria
Something I realized when searching for the perfect soda alternative is that I REALLY like carbonation.
I could live without the sweetness of the drink or the specific soda flavor, but the carbonation was what did it for me.
Four of these healthy alternatives to soda include both sweet flavors and carbonation, while one does not have carbonation at all. I find that these are the two most attractive aspects of soda – the sweetness and the bubbles.
Take some time to figure out what your taste buds like – maybe you’re like me and you enjoy a carbonated beverage, regardless of the flavor. Or, maybe you like the sharp flavor soda brings more than anything else.
Figuring out WHY you like soda will help you to find the best soda alternative that works for you! Because that’s all that really matters anyway.
If it’s not the best soda alternative for you, you won’t turn to it instead of soda, and you will never be able to switch to another drink of choice.
Five Great Soda Alternatives
Here are five great soda alternatives that I enjoy, and often now choose instead of a soda!
Zevia is the first on the healthy soda alternatives list because I think it’s the drink most closest to soda. In fact, it’s actually advertised as soda!
While it does contain citric acid and caffeine, it’s sweetened with stevia and flavored naturally. So, no high fructose corn syrup or major sugar rush.
My favorite flavor is the Black Cherry Cola.
When I drink Zevia, it’s because I’m looking for a strong flavor with good carbonation.
Pre-Made Carbonated Water
Carbonated Water has been the latest hit on the hipster soda alternative scene.
For good reason, I believe. The pre-packaged nature of these carbonated waters helps keep them super bubbly, which can be a problem if you drink homemade carbonated water, and I think they have really good flavors!
One thing to note about store-bought carbonated water is that they don’t always have “innocent” ingredients! You always have to check the labels!
Often, one of the nasty ingredients in pre-packaged carbonated waters is aspartame – an artificial sweetener. Just like sugar, aspartame can have negative effects on your entire body – including your brain health.
My husband likes to joke and say that these carbonated water brands are flavored by water collected from a stream that flowed near a fruit patch, hinting that the flavors are very subtle.
Honestly, they are light. But, once I’ve switched from soda to flavored, or even non-flavored, carbonated water, I’ve noticed that they flavor is more pungent! If it’s not strong enough for you, stick with it and see if your tastes change a little!
Carbonated Water Maker
In my opinion, the best way to get your own carbonated drink is to make your own!
Now, the SodaStream and other similar devices do cost more up front. However, in the long run, they are a much cheaper option!
Not only do you get to save some money in your wallet, but you also help the environment by eliminating single use cans.
The best container to put your carbonated water in is a glass bottle. I find that this keep the water carbonated longer, and you don’t have to worry about it breaking under pressure.
Specifically, I use old Kombucha jars, but you could use any glass bottle that you want! Here’s a good option for carbonated water bottles if you don’t already have some at home.
When you make your carbonated water, be sure to put any flavoring in first. I find that this is the best way to mix your flavoring and water together.
Also, try to make it a little bit fizzier than you like, as your drink will lose some fizz almost immediately.
This is the Carbonated Water Maker that I have used on a weekly basis for a few years, but there are lots of different options on the market that work just as well!
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Water Kefir and Kombucha
Of all of the drinks listed, water kefir and kombucha might just be the healthiest options.
Not only are they hydrating, but they also have probiotic cultures that can help you develop a better gut microbiome. AKA, they’re fermented drinks.
With antibiotics, autoimmune disorders, and digestive issues rampant in today’s society, we could all use a little help!
While fermented drinks are both “sparkling”, they have a lower carbonation rate than soda typically does, and than the carbonated water I make.
I like to describe it as the bubbles feel smaller.
If you really like a strong carbonation, fermented drinks might not be your first choice. But, do give them a chance as the probiotic benefits really truly outweigh any of the perceived cons.
Water Infused with Fruit
The last one on our list is the simplest choice – water with a slice of fruit. No materials or purchases needed.
While this one doesn’t have that carbonation that I love, it does add extra flavor that plain water just doesn’t have. And sometimes that small change is all we need to make a difference.
If you’re switching from soda to flavored water, it will be quite different, but you might find that you quite enjoy a glass with your favorite fruit for different reasons.
Final Tips to Choose a Perfect Soda Alternative
When choosing a healthy alternative to soda, the most important point is that you choose a drink that you love just as much! If you don’t like it, you will likely go back to the soda without question.
Making the choice to select a healthier alternative to soda is a great one, not to be taken lightly. You can do this! You can make intentional steps to improve your health!
Let me know which option you like best – Zevia, premade carbonated water, using a SodaStream, fermented drinks, or water with fruit – and which new drink you’d like to try next!
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Disclaimer: Although I am a mental health professional, I am not YOUR mental health professional. The information provided on this website is for educational and informational purposes only and using this website does not establish a counselor-client relationship, or constitute provision of mental health services. I am not responsible for any damages resulting from your use of the content on this site, as the information provided does not substitute for collaboration with a health professional. Please consult with your health professional before making changes to your health regimen.