- Publish Date
- Monday, 6 November 2017, 9:30AM
How'd you like to save a quick $120 in a month, as well as lose a kilo or two, just by doing one simple thing?
Sounds like one of those ads that pop up on the side of your Facebook feed, right? But this is no clickbait. These benefits - and more - are yours for the taking if you're in the habit of drinking sweet drinks most days, and you sign up for the Switch to Water challenge.
Switch to Water is what the New Zealand Dental Association wants us to do in November and ideally beyond (you can start anytime in November).
They're suggesting we do this for the good of our teeth; a very good reason. Sugary drinks, including juices, sports drinks, energy drinks, flavoured waters, flavoured milk and basically anything sweetened with sugar, are acidic and are a major contributor to dental decay.
They're particularly problematic when we sip them slowly - as with "sipper"-style bottles. When we do this, we're basically bathing our teeth in sugar solution, causing potentially serious issues for our teeth.
Can't we just switch to diet drinks, then? Dentists say no; artificially sweetened drinks are still highly acidic, so they're still bad for teeth. That applies to carbonated drinks in general, in fact, even down to sparkling water, which is still slightly acidic.
It also includes trendy health drinks like iced tea and kombucha. Tap water is the top pick for our teeth, and if you're a fan of kombucha, chase it up with water.
The simple step of switching to water instead of sugary drinks can have other major benefits too.
We know sugary drinks contribute to weight gain. They're concentrated sources of calories, without providing any kind of satiety, so they're a very easy way to add energy - and weight.
If you cut out one sugary drink a day for 30 days, you could easily save the equivalent of nine meals' worth of calories. That could equate to several kilos of weight loss, depending on your other circumstances.
You could also save money. Cut out one drink a day (say a 600ml bottle of fizzy at $4) and opt for free tap water and you could pocket $120. Fancy juice or smoothie drinkers could save even more.
You'll also do your bit for the environment by saving 30 plastic bottles, cans or cups from the waste stream.
Habitual sweet drinks consumers may find tap water a bit on the boring side.
It does take time to retrain our palates to enjoy water, and less sweetness in general. So try adding subtle flavour with fruit, herbs and vegetables. Try freezing mint in ice-cube trays and popping it into your water with slices of cucumber. Or try the same trick with berries, melon or orange slices.
Another nice idea is homemade iced tea; use one of the new "hot or cold" tea bags. The fruit flavours have subtle sweetness and colour, and are fun to drink.
This article was first published on NZ Herald and is republished here with permission.