Beverages are tough all around, because technically, water is all our bodies really need. But if you walk around in a grocery store, or cruise over the menu at a restaurant, or find yourself in front of a vending machine, water is basically an afterthought. The one thing that your body is predominantly MADE OF, and it has faded into the background of our drink selection. The next time you're sitting in a restaurant, take a second to be a nosy asshole and look around at what every table is drinking. Chances are, it's not fucking water. It's probably fucking soda. 

Soda is one of those drinks that was created, and people liked the taste of it so much, that companies began mass producing it to feed the demand (and make money) and then people became addicted to it without stopping to ask, "What the fuck is in this?" It's in the same league as Kool-Aid and Tang. But if you think about Coca Cola... it's a brown, bubbly, ultra-sugary drink, which is actually really fucking strange. Rumor has it that until 1903, Coca Cola had ACTUAL COCAINE in it. No wonder people fucking loved it! They probably felt great! Plus, sugar. 

As the years went on, more brands of soda emerged, and the companies distributing it did what they always do. They fucking MADE BANK. And then they decided to explore ways that they could make MORE BANK. So they played around with what was in it (no longer cocaine), tinkered with the price, fidgeted with how far they could send it, and here we are today! Addicted to soda and riddled with diabetes, heart disease, and ADHD! At least we're not drinking cocaine anymore. 

Look at these fucking bears. They're all high.

BUT... in an ironic twist of events... this is what happens when you drink a glass of today's Coca Cola:

Within 45 minutes of gulping down a single 20-ounce glass of soda, caffeine from the drink is fully absorbed, and as a result your pupils dilate and blood pressure rises. The body produces more dopamine, which stimulates the pleasure centers of the brain — just like a low-grade line of cocaine.

FULL CIRCLE! Isn't life funny that way. 

Soda is one of the most consumed beverages in the United States, placing second only to water. I guess we can all give ourselves a round of applause for drinking more water than soda, but then as soon as I tell you Americans drink 57 gallons of soda per person, per year, we can stop clapping and start slapping ourselves in the face(s). 

One can of soda contains 10 teaspoons of sugar. That's DISGUSTING, and also interesting, because if I told a person who drinks soda regularly to go fill a glass of water and then put TEN TEASPOONS OF PURE SUGAR in it, stir it up, and drink the whole fucking thing, they would tell me I was gross. All that sugar goes in your body, has a mean encounter with the pancreas and the liver has to start compensating by turning it into fat. Because of this extreme reaction, we have an obesity and a type 2 diabetes problem that is unprecedented. Each can of soda increases the risk of obesity by 1.6 times, and increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by 1.1%. In a Harvard study performed on 40,000 men over the course of 2 decades, those who drank a can of soda each day had a 20% higher chance of suffering a heart attack than those who did not. 

So, the sugar content in soda alone is enough to kill you. But it gets better! Soda also contains phosphoric acid, which interrupts your body's ability to absorb calcium. A lack of calcium can lead to osteoporosis and fuck with your teeth something fierce. While on the topic, soda will decay tooth enamel, and the sugar will cause cavities. Coca Cola will remove rust off of metal, so it seems logical to put it on your teeth, right? Cause they're not important. And if you're thinking, "man, all that sugar, I should switch to diet..." that's also a shit idea because aspartame (the artificial sweetener used in diet soda) is, if possible, worse. 

In diet sodas, aspartame is used as a substitute for sugar, and can actually be more harmful. It has been linked to almost a hundred different health problems including seizures, multiple sclerosis, brain tumors, diabetes, and emotional disorders. It converts to methanol at warm temperatures and methanol breaks down to formaldehyde and formic acid. Diet sodas also increase the risk of metabolic syndrome, which causes belly fat, high blood sugar and raised cholesterol.

All the obvious ridiculous shit aside, let's focus on the irony here: diet soda... causes belly fat. 

So, let's say you eat a diet Key Lime Pie Yoplait and finish it off with a Diet Coke... so few calories! Except, any and all low or no-fat yogurt has aspartame in it (or sucralose, equally fake, and as dangerous). And, you absorbed less calcium from your toxic yogurt than you would have otherwise, because of the phosphoric acid in your toxic drink. 

I feel obligated to mention Mountain Dew, which is a deep, neon color that has never been seen in nature. But who gives a shit about artificial coloring... BVO, which makes an appearance in every can of Mountain Dew, is also found in flame retardants, and is illegal in Europe and Japan. Mountain Dew's parent company, Pepsi, had their lawyers claim that a mouse couldn't be found in a can of their product because the acid in it would have melted an animal... and this was in their defense. Mountain Dew is like radioactive waste. If the nail hasn't been hammered in the coffin for you yet, may I remind you that Honey Boo Boo drinks it and calls it, "Go-Go Juice."

Finally, the sugar that is in soda isn't just sugar, it's high fructose corn syrup, which means it's literally made out of corn. Just like everything else. But if you're unsure of the difference between regular sugar and high fructose corn syrup on a more scientific level than, "one is sugar, one is corn," here's a blurb from Dr. Mark Hyman's website. I don't know who Dr. Mark is but he's got answers. Also I think he has an Instagram. 

[HCFS] is extracted from corn stalks through a process so secret that Archer Daniels Midland and Carghill would not allow the investigative journalist Michael Pollan to observe it for his book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. The sugars are extracted through a chemical enzymatic process resulting in a chemically and biologically novel compound called HFCS. Some basic biochemistry will help you understand this. Regular cane sugar (sucrose) is made of two-sugar molecules bound tightly together– glucose and fructose in equal amounts.The enzymes in your digestive tract must break down the sucrose into glucose and fructose, which are then absorbed into the body. HFCS also consists of glucose and fructose, not in a 50-50 ratio, but a 55-45 fructose to glucose ratio in an unbound form. Fructose is sweeter than glucose. And HFCS is cheaper than sugar because of the government farm bill corn subsidies. Products with HFCS are sweeter and cheaper than products made with cane sugar. This allowed for the average soda size to balloon from 8 ounces to 20 ounces with little financial costs to manufacturers but great human costs of increased obesity, diabetes, and chronic disease.
Now back to biochemistry. Since there is there is no chemical bond between them, no digestion is required so they are more rapidly absorbed into your blood stream. Fructose goes right to the liver and triggers lipogenesis (the production of fats like triglycerides and cholesterol) this is why it is the major cause of liver damage in this country and causes a condition called “fatty liver” which affects 70 million people.

Alright, kids. Don't drink soda. Or you will get chlamydia, and die. 

So, if you're unsure of what to drink instead of this deadly brew you've been feeding yourself and your children for years, don't worry! I have a complex where I always need to be drinking something, and I don't drink soda, so there are options out there. Here goes. 

  1. Just drink water. If you drink water with ice, I swear it tastes better. Add either frozen or fresh raspberries or blackberries to an ice water... it tastes good but also, the berries grow as they absorb the water, and they're fun to look at. If you want to be fancy as fuck you can add cucumbers, orange slices, or mint leaves. 
  2. Make homemade soda. Whenever I go to Ikea, I buy Elderflower and Lingonberry syrups. The ratio is one part syrup to 6 parts water, so the bottle of syrup lasts a long time. The ingredients in the syrup are actually natural, and since the point is to significantly dilute it, you have control over how much you are consuming. I like to add mine to club soda instead of water (79 cents for a bottle at Trader Joe's, also good with just ice). You can also get a tiny machine that carbonates your drink, and then you can re-use bottles and travel with it. This is a wild guess, but you can probably get one on Amazon. 
  3. Drink 100% pure juice diluted with water. Don't buy regular juice, because it's not just juice. It's probably got "natural flavors" listed as an ingredient, which is code for beaver asshole. I am not trying to be funny here. Make sure your juice is 100%, and cut it with water to offset how much sugar is in it (better than the sugar in soda, but it's still good to decrease as much as possible). 
  4. Make a smoothie. In this case, again, you can control what goes into your drink. Smoothies are easy to make, too... put a scoop of ice, with fruit or peanut butter, or CHOCOLATE CHIPS, and cover the ingredients with either juice or milk (dairy or non-dairy). Don't forget to blend. 
  5. Buy a juicer. I have a Nutri-Bullet and I use it to make hummus more than I make any juice, but if you are looking for beverage alternatives, it's a good one. 
  6. Drink coffee. The statistic changes all the time, but drinking somewhere between 1 and 5,000 cups of coffee per day is really fucking good for you. Just don't exclusively drink coffee because it's dehydrating, and that's kind of like racing to the finish line, on a treadmill. Drink water alongside it so you don't dehydrate yourself. 
  7. Drink tea - hot or iced. Tea is really fucking good for you, too, and different teas can be used to cure different ailments. A good substitute for soda is iced tea, but it has to be unsweetened, plain tea! There is nothing more infuriating to me than when people talk about how they drink "diet" iced tea. Arizona iced tea is probably almost as bad as soda, and "diet" tea only means it has aspartame instead of sugar. If you want to drink "diet" tea, just drink plain fucking tea. It's water and leaves, it won't make you gain weight, I swear. I recently discovered Sound Sparkling Tea, and I highly recommend it based mainly on the ingredients in their drinks and the fact that it's fucking delicious. 
  8. Apple Cider Vinegar. I could write an entire post about how magical apple cider vinegar is. Before you go to bed at night, boil water as if you are making tea. Add a half a tablespoon (if you are sick or on the verge of being sick, make it a full tablespoon) of apple cider vinegar, and then honey AND lemon to taste. This will clear out your whole face and lull you into the calmest sleep of your life. It's water, so you'll be hydrated before you go to sleep, too. 
  9. Drink Champagne. This one is just for funsies, not to replace soda, especially if you tend to drink soda in the morning or at work. But drinks made of fermented grapes have a lot of health benefits, so be grand, bunnies, love yourself and drink champagne. 

All of the aforementioned options are better than soda, because they won't lead to death. If you do drink a lot of soda at the moment, I have heard that you can ween yourself off by diluting your soda with water. It will give you the sugar and the flavor your body thinks it needs, but you will be automatically cutting the sugar in half. I think it sounds like it would taste fucking disgusting, but maybe it does and that's what makes you never want to drink it again. 

Also, if you're worried about cutting out soda because your "drink" when you "go out" is liquor mixed with soda, there is a trick. Try a gin and tonic (with an extra lime if you want to get crazy) instead of a rum and coke. Trust. 

Now let's all take a moment to reflect on some model parenting at the right. That baby is probably flushed cause that 7 Up is a mixer and there's already whiskey in the cup.