The other day I came across yet another article on aspartame, a sweetener that has been under scrutiny for some time now. It’s been found in a handful of products like diet drinks, and has been linked with various negative effects on health, including neurodegenerative problems. At the end of that article there were links to hundreds more – some based on studies, some based on opinions – and we started discussing what we drink every day.
If you’re choosing to stay away from soft drinks because of the high sugar content, and diet drinks because of the sweeteners, you may be wondering what there is left out there. Luckily, we’ve got your back with these alternatives:
The number 1 choice
Water is simply the best option if we’re feeling thirsty. It rehydrates, quenches our thirst, is easily available and has the bonus of adding no extra calories to our daily intake. Pretty ideal, right? If you’re not a fan of water as is, don’t worry, you can mix in a little lemon juice, lemon slices or mint and allow to stand for a while. Changing the temperature of the water can also make the taste change, so give that a go. Adding a little cordial or a small amount of juice is another option, and while this means you’re adding some sugar, it’s better than drinking no water at all. So fill a glass, add your own twist, and sip away!
Even just a mouthful of fresh fruit juice can make us feel healthier, and going for the freshly squeezed sorts are even better because then we know we’re getting all the good stuff. Fruit juices contain fructose, a type of sugar found in fruit, so dilute your juice with water to reduce the sugar intake while still retaining the fruity taste. It can be a bit of a leap for some, but veggie juices are just as good for you and often don’t contain as much sugar.
Tea has the answer
Some people vouch that a cup of tea can solve all problems, and upping a low fluid intake is one of them. Rooibos, our very own caffeine-free tea, is the best option, and while other teas do contain caffeine, it’s less than what you’d find in coffee, so a few cups a day will do no harm.* Watch out for ice tea though which contains way too much sugar – either dilute it, or get creative and make your own by brewing some Rooibos or flavoured teas to a strength you like, adding some ice cubes and keeping it in the fridge until cool.
Coffee to get you going
There is nothing wrong with a cup or two of java throughout the day; it tastes wonderful, adds to fluid intake and gives you a reason to get up from your desk and have a few minutes of socialising with colleagues. If you notice though that a third or fourth cup is sneaking into your day it may be time to start cutting back – too much caffeine can make it hard to concentrate, can lead to dehydration and interferes with your ability to know when you’re hungry or not.
Milk and cookies (ok, maybe not the cookies every day)
Milk got a bit of a bad reputation a few years ago, but it’s not something we need to steer clear of. It’s a good source of protein and calcium, so add it to smoothies, hot drinks or feel like a kid again and just have it, as is, in a tall glass! Not sure which milk to go for? Find your answer here
We all love our smoothies, don’t we?
Full of yummy and healthy ingredients, these are a great source of energy, minerals and vitamins. While it shouldn’t act as your daily liquid intake (simply because there’s quite a bit of sugar in it from the fruit and juice/oats/yoghurt etc.), it’s still a healthy option as a breakfast, after a gym session or as the occasional treat.
*None of us want to add even more added sugar to our intake, so keep an eye on how much you add to your tea and coffee. Gradually reduce the amount of sugar you add and eventually you’ll get used to it. Nifty trick: after about 2 weeks of adding less sugar, make a cup, add as much sugar as you originally would have and take a sip. Too sweet? I’m sure you’ll agree, and that means you’re successfully changing your preferences!
Watch CBS News’s Is Sugar Toxic? for a little insight on research regarding added sugar intake
Image sourced from Pinterest