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Sugar Free Soda Alternative

April 2, 2010 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

I was listening recently to an interview with Dr. Richard Bernstein that was conducted by David Edelman of Diabetes Today. During the course of the interview David posed a few specific questions that I genuinely wanted to know the answers to: “What did you have for breakfast and for lunch?”. These aren’t exactly hard hitting inquiries or the kind of material that is likely to convert anyone to Dr. Bernstein’s philosophy for controlling blood sugar. But it does offer an intriguing glimpse into how a seasoned expert applies his own recommendations to his daily life. After all, isn’t that what we’d all like to know? How do we take the concepts and guidelines presented in books, magazines and websites, and incorporate them into our regular routines? One way to accomplish this is to replace damaging diet elements with healthier options.

Sodas are among the most insidious components of the modern day diet. This is largely because once you’re hooked on soda, you tend to stay that way. The most recent investigations involving beverage consumption suggest that regular soda use goes hand in hand with poor overall diet quality. In practical terms this means a lower intake of calcium, fiber, magnesium, potassium, protein and not surprisingly a higher intake of added sugars. The result of this un-natural shift in dietary composition appears to result in a wide variety of ills including cardiovascular, kidney, liver disease and obesity. (1,2,3,4,5)

This is where my pragmatic side comes into play. I could just advise you all to avoid anything that remotely resembles soda. But I could only do that if I actually followed that same advice. Lately I’ve found a few natural options to soda that provide a little added fun to my diet while at the same time contributing something of value. Perhaps most importantly, I can drink these natural soda alternatives with a clear conscience because I know they’re not contributing to my demise.

A case in point is a new sparkling green tea drink by Steaz. At this very moment there’s a bottle of Steaz Zero Calorie Orange Sparkling Green Tea in my refrigerator just waiting for me get thirsty. Here’s a look at the ingredient list:

  • Steaz Zero Calorie Orange Sparkling Green Tea - Sparkling filtered water, organic erythritol (natural sweetener), beta carotene (pro-Vitamin A), organic flavor (brewed organic Fair Trade Certified Ceylon green tea, water, organic flavor), citric acid, sodium citrate, Rebiana (stevia extract – natural sweetener), Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine HCl), Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin).

This about as pure an ingredient list as you can hope to find in a commercial product. The label claims that each 12 ounce glass bottle also boasts an impressive 120 mg of green tea derived antioxidants. But it’s not just what this beverage contains that caught my eye. What’s equally important is what it omits. A prime example is what they use to give this “orange soda” it’s distinctive color. Most conventional soda pops would opt for artificial colorants. The makers of Steaz, The Healthy Beverage Company, use the antioxidant beta carotene instead – the same substance that gives carrots their distinctive hue. This simple swap of ingredients may promote improved cardiovascular health by protecting LDL cholesterol from oxidizing and, thereby, reducing the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). (6)

(Unlike Soda) Green Tea Protects Teeth from Erosion
Source: J. Appl. Oral Sci. vol.17 no.6 Nov.Dec. 2009 (link)

The scientific literature provides a seemingly consistent flow of promising information about the health benefits of green tea. The fact that green tea is the base of this bubbly elixir bodes well for anyone who drinks it. The latest research about green tea and its chemical components suggest that it may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, lower arthritis inflammation and protect against liver damage caused by oxidative stress. (7,8,9)

Even the relatively small dosages of B-vitamins contained in Steaz Zero Calorie may tip the scale in favor of improved wellness. A recent meta-analysis of 13 studies determined that men and women with higher levels of Vitamin B6 demonstrated a significantly lower incidence (-20%) of colorectal cancer. The Swedish authors of the review note that these findings may be because of the “nearly 100 enzymatic reactions” associated with Vitamin B6 that “may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer”. (10)

It’s also important to note that even small (physiological) doses of B12, such as those contained in Steaz Zero Calorie, seem to provoke substantive changes in the body. This is evidenced in a current study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition which found that dosages as low as 2 mcg of Vitamin B12 can effectively lower homocysteine levels – a possible risk factor for cardiovascular disease and beyond. The same goes with folic acid. It’s an essential nutrient that’s only required in small quantities. However new reports indicate that as few as 24% of women of childbearing age get enough of this vital nutrient which can protect against neural tube defects. (11,12)

I’m not suggesting that you necessarily use products such as Steaz Zero Calorie as a nutritional supplement. My position is that you stick with the basics: get the preponderance of your nutrients from whole foods and fortify any additional requirements with the judicious use of nutritional supplements. But if you’d enjoy having a mildly sweet, sparkling drink every now and again, I think you’d do well choosing something like the beverage I’ve highlighted today. Remember that a holistic approach to health doesn’t have to be dogmatic or devoid of pleasure. It’s important to find ways to nourish both your body and mind. In my experience, experimenting with new products such as this can accomplish this joint objective. In closing I want to pass along a near perfect description that my wife used in reference to this drink. She mentioned that it wasn’t cloyingly sweet like many other “diet” sodas, but rather tastes more like “a soda for adults”. That pretty much says it all. The only thing I would add is that it’s perfectly fine for children too.

Be well!

JP

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12 Comments & Updates to “Sugar Free Soda Alternative”

  1. Robbie Wigley Says:

    I stopped drinking soda a long time ago just because I didn’t want to drink my calories but I missed the carbonated type drink. I discovered that drinking a carbonated water with a packet of crystallized lemon called True Lemon was great. It was refresh, no calories, fizzy, and added vitamin C to my diet. It comes in these neat little 1 wedge packets too. This also solved the problem of asking for a lemon for water when I was out and wondering if the person cutting the lemon had washed their hands or the lemon. By the way… I have nothing to do with this company.

  2. JP Says:

    Thank you for sharing that tip with us, Robbie. That sounds like another really good option. :)

    Be well!

    JP

  3. Oct Says:

    And no aspartame. I need to find some Steaz Zero Calorie Orange Sparkling Green Tea ti trt … thanks JP!

  4. JP Says:

    No aspartame! :) I hope you enjoy it if you try it, Oct!

    Be well!

    JP

  5. Ray Says:

    Soda is the worst thing for you because of High Fructose Corn Syrup and fructose in general.

    Fructose is a poison. Your body absorbs it faster than any sugar and it goes right to your belly fat. There are so many more reasons to avoid fructose in liquid form it is almost shocking.

    This article on fructose sums it up well.
    http://rayshealth.com/fructose-wars-sugar-soda-weight-loss/

    If you want to lose weight fast then it is easy just stop drinking any and all soft drinks and soda’s

  6. Orna Izakson, ND, RH (AHG) Says:

    Intriguing idea to use B vitamins for coloring! It’s great to see the research on physiological doses making an impact.

    It’s not completely sugar free, but from a health perspective I’m a fan of adding pure, unsweetened fruit juice to a good brand of sparkling mineral water. This allows for variety, you can mix to taste, and get lots of great antioxidants — and minerals in which we’re often deficient. I use black cherry juice, but there are obviously other choices. Here’s a great article considering the antioxidant capacity of various juices, written by a Colorado naturopath: http://denvernaturopathic.com/Juicecomparison.htm.

    Thanks again for you great work, JP!

  7. JP Says:

    Thanks for your input, Ray! Well said! :)

    Be well!

    JP

  8. JP Says:

    Thank you for your valuable contribution, Orna. :)

    The comparison of fruit juices is very helpful indeed. I appreciate you posting it!

    Be well!

    JP

  9. Doug Slater Says:

    I don’t drink soda very often but I do drink green tea. To make it a little sweeter and more palatable I add a teaspoon of honey and that makes it taste great.

  10. JP Says:

    Doug,

    Have you ever tried stevia? If the taste is to your liking, you can avoid the natural calories and sugar found in honey. It might be worth experimenting with.

    Be well!

    JP

  11. Jessy Says:

    Thanks for the info! I’m a water drinker, but sometimes I’d like a little something “extra!” Sounds like this might be the ticket! What store did you purchase it in? Thanks!

  12. JP Says:

    Update 05/21/15:

    http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/7/5/3569/htm

    Nutrients. 2015 May 13;7(5):3569-86.

    Diet Soft Drink Consumption is Associated with the Metabolic Syndrome: A Two Sample Comparison.

    Comparative analyses of soft drink intakes in samples from the United States and Europe, and assessed intakes in relation to prevalence of metabolic syndrome (MetS) and its individual components are currently lacking. We used data collected on cardiovascular health and dietary intakes in participants from two cross-sectional studies: the Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study (MSLS), conducted in Central New York, USA in 2001-2006 (n = 803), and the Observation of Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Luxembourg Study (ORISCAV-LUX), conducted in 2007-2009 (n = 1323). Odds ratios for MetS were estimated according to type and quantity of soft drink consumption, adjusting for demographic, lifestyle and dietary factors, in both studies. In both studies, individuals who consumed at least one soft drink per day had a higher prevalence of MetS, than non-consumers. This was most evident for consumers of diet soft drinks, consistent across both studies. Diet soft drink intakes were also positively associated with waist circumference and fasting plasma glucose in both studies. Despite quite different consumption patterns of diet versus regular soft drinks in the two studies, findings from both support the notion that diet soft drinks are associated with a higher prevalence of MetS.

    Be well!

    JP

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