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The Soda Challenge

It’s time to stop swigging the sodas in favor of more healthful beverages.

I know soda isn’t the healthiest drink. It’s not like I keep a 2-liter of alien-green Mountain Sprite Extreme in the fridge. But how bad can it be? I mean, a nice cola when I’m super tired; a diet soda at lunch. Is it really... oh, wait, yes, it’s apparently very bad, according to this week’s research out of Boston University. It showed that people who drink sugary beverages like soda every day are likely to have less sharp memories, and—get this—have a smaller brain volume overall.

But what about diet soda? It’s more virtuous, no? Well, the news wasn’t great there, either. People who drank diet soda daily were almost three times more likely to develop stroke and dementia when compared to those who did not. That clanging sound you hear is me putting down the soda can. For this week’s Healthy Habit, here are some ways to get off the soda train.

  1. Start keeping tabs. If you’re someone who sips soda all day, start by at least counting your cans/bottles/glasses so that you can track consumption.
  2. Cut one serving. Once you see patterns, like, “I always have a cup on the way in, then a can at lunchtime, and 3 p.m.,” cut out one serving, then another. This soda reduction may take time, and that’s okay. Think big picture.
  3. Have alternatives ready. Have some healthy, tasty beverages in the fridge and pantry. Try green or black tea, “spa” water with cucumber and citrus, naturally flavored seltzers, or kombucha.
  4. Watch the mixed drinks. Diet tonic, cola, etc.—these mixers aren’t exactly healthful. Sip a nice glass of wine instead.
  5. More inspiration. Has the shrunken brain still not convinced you? Okay, I’ll give you three reasons to take the Soda Challenge and reduce your consumption:
  • Acidic beverages such as soda can erode dental enamel.
  • Artificial sweeteners pass through humans and into the environment. Ugh.
  • Caramel coloring, such as that found in colas, contain potentially cancer-causing chemicals.

It’s time to stop swigging the sodas in favor of more healthful beverages. This week, give it a try!

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