Updated 07 August 2013

Swop 'liquid candy' for water

Sugary soft drinks don’t do the environment, local economies or our health any favours.

Water, the original Adam’s Ale, was always meant to be our number one soft drink.

In terms of the environment, the manufacture of soft drinks uses up resources, while bottles and cans are a big component of the waste stream. Just a few multinational giants (most notably, the Coca-Cola company and PepsiCo), dominate the soft drink market, squeezing out small local manufacturers.

'Liquid candy' linked to obesity, diabetes

Our health suffers because commercial soft drinks replace nutritious food and drinks in our diets, especially kids’ diets, and are a major factor in the growing obesity and diabetes epidemics as well as in tooth decay. The latter is particularly true in poor areas where there’s no access to dental care. Sodas with added sugar (rather aptly dubbed “liquid candy” in one nutrition report) and other artificial additives are the worst culprits, but sugar-free sodas, sports drinks and fruit "nectars" (sweetened juice) are also resource-wasteful and not very healthy. 

100% fruit juice is nutritious, but it can be high in calories so you should limit intake if you’re trying to maintain a healthy weight. Or, try diluting it: fruit juice is essentially concentrated (a glass of apple juice contains the natural sugar of several apples). Nutritionists generally agree it’s better to get most of your fruit intake by eating whole fruit rather than in juice form – this way you get more fibre and feel fuller on fewer calories. 

Slake your thirst with water first

Get into the habit of always having a jug of cool water on the table with meals at home, and order a glass of water to sip during restaurant meals. Lemon slices, mint leaves and ice can be added for extra appeal. Carry a water bottle with you and stay hydrated during the day. You don’t have to force yourself to down gallons of water (and you shouldn’t ever try to drink more liquid than quenches your thirst), but aim to make it the drink you reach for most often on a daily basis.

Also experiment with squeezing and blending your own fruit smoothies and juices (nothing like freshly squeezed orange juice in the morning).

Relegate fizzy sugary drinks to the (very) occasional treat. If you must.

- Olivia Rose-Innes, EnviroHealth Editor

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