The amount of sugar we've been consuming has been steadily and dramatically rising for the last few decades. At the very least, this is a lot of empty calories, but for many of us the problem is worse. A diet high in sugars can raise insulin levels in the body, which leads to weight gain and other health problems. Worse, rising blood sugar can cause damage to the pancreas, pushing the body closer and closer to diabetes. Finally, we can develop a response to sweet foods which is something like addiction. Cutting back on sugars is one of the biggest favors you can do for yourself.
Stop Drinking Sugary Drinks
Sugary drinks are the single biggest source of added sugars in the U.S. diet, including the diets of young people. ("Added" means added by people -- for example, the sugars in fruit are naturally occurring, and thus not "added".) Most of the drinks on the market are sweetened with sugar, including soda, fruit drinks (e.g. lemonade), iced tea, and flavored coffee drinks. Most of these drinks have 6 to 7 teaspoons of sugar in each cup.
What to Drink Instead?
Of course, water is the best choice any time, but for a lot of us, something with flavor is not only more enjoyable, but encourages us to drink a little more. Here are some alternatives.
What About Sports Drinks?
Do you like to have a Gatorade or other sports drink handy while you exercise? I'm sure you've figured out by now how much sugar is in them. Is this necessary? What else is in sports drinks? I analyze sports drinks and tell you how to get the same nutrients without all the sugar.
Favorite Sugar-Free Beverages
Readers contribute their favorite ideas for sugar-free beverages.
What about alcoholic beverages? Do we have to worry about sugar there too?
The most sugary alcoholic beverages (sometimes with an astonishing amount) are many of the sugary cocktails. A small margarita could easily have a quarter cup of sugar in it, for example. Here's how to have your cosmo or mojito without loading up on the sweet stuff.