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November 27, 2013

Staying Healthy Over 60: Alternatives to Diet Drinks

Many older adults watching their weight switch from regular soda to diet drinks to cut out calories. Swapping regular soda for diet is an obvious solution to have a bubbly beverage without the guilt of ruining your diet, but several studies related to the regular consumption of diet drinks raise questions about how beneficial they really are.

A study funded by the National Institute of Health showed drinking diet soft drinks regularly can increase the risk of a vascular event—or heart problem— by 43 percent. Another suggests diet drinks can increase the risk of depression for older adults. Even though many people drink diet beverages to lose weight, there is growing evidence that they may actually cause you to gain.

While the effects of artificial sweeteners and diet soft drinks are still being studied, you can avoid the issue altogether by choosing an alternate beverage. We take a look at a few options here:

  • Water: Water is the best drink for you. Water keeps you hydrated, helps your organs operate normally, and has no negative side effects. If tap water seems lackluster to you, you can purchase a filtered pitcher to keep in your fridge for a cold, refreshing drink. Still not excited? Try adding fruit, veggies, or herbs for a healthy and natural boost of flavor. Crush some lemon slices, fresh mint, strawberries, watermelon, orange, lime, cucumber, or raspberries and add them to your water for a refreshing infusion.
  • Tea: Tea can be a delicious and relaxing drink hot or cold. It’s an ancient beverage that’'s been shown to have numerous health benefits. In general, there is black tea, green tea, and white tea. Studies have shown all three have benefits ranging from weight control to reduced risk of cancer or stroke. If you want to sweeten your tea, use a little natural sweetener like honey. Just limit how much you’'re using if you’'re watching your weight.
  • Juices: While fruit juices are a good in small amounts, many contain a large amount of sugar and calories. You can lighten up your fruit juice by adding a few ounces of juice to regular seltzer water. This is a good option if you’'re seeking something bubbly like soda. You can also reach for vegetable juice or a fruit and vegetable juice blend for a nutritious drink with less sugar. Just be careful to check the sodium content on veggie juices, as some can be high in salt.
  • Coffee: Coffee is another drink that’'s been enjoyed by people for centuries. Drinking coffee in moderation has been shown to have several health benefits, including improved brain function and reduced risk of diabetes and stroke. If you don’'t enjoy drinking your coffee black, opt for non-fat milk or a little natural sweetener in place of cream and sweetener. For a cool way to enjoy coffee, pour it over ice.
  • Milk: While milk isn’t calorie free, it has the added benefits of giving you some nutritional value. Regular milk, almond milk, and soymilk offer significant amounts of calcium, protein, and other nutrients good for bone and muscle health, which is extremely important for older adults. If you’'re looking for a low-calorie drink, unsweetened almond milk can have as few as 30 calories in eight ounces.

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Photo Credit: Alan

Better Medication Management


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