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Soft Drinks and Flavored Waters and Your Diabetes Self-Management

Soft drinks are sometimes called soda, pop, soda pop, Coke, or something else, in large part depending upon where you happen to live. And, soft drinks have been around for a long, long time. Soft drinks are, of course, carbonated.

Flavored waters, on the other hand, are a recent comer to the commercial drink market. They come ready-to-drink in bottles or cans, and some varieties are carbonated like soft drinks. The difference between carbonated flavored water and a soft drink may be only a question of the manufacturer’s target market. Flavored water also comes as a dry powdered mix that can be added to water.

Many flavored waters advertise certain formulas of vitamins and nutrients, or are labeled with descriptive words hinting at a particular effect — relax, flex, think. View these claims as advertising’s subtle attempt to convince you there are no other options for finding these nutrients, and always check the nutrition facts label for calories and carbohydrate.

As you might suspect, the primary issue with soft drinks and flavored waters related to diabetes would be whether the drinks are sweetened with sugar. A 12-ounce, sugar-sweetened soft drink has 140 calories and 39 grams of carbohydrate.

Soft drinks are commonly packaged in 20-ounce bottles, too, listed as one serving on the nutrition labels with 240 calories and 65 grams carbohydrate. Supersized fountain drinks, 32 ounces or more, can pack 300 calories and 80 grams carbohydrate.

Of course, most soft drinks and flavored waters come in no calorie varieties, meaning they are either not sweetened, or are sweetened with non-nutritive sweeteners. For diabetes and weight management, no-calorie or reduced-calorie beverages are a better choice because they allow you to get your calories and carbohydrates from foods that also provide nutritional benefits.

A final thought on soft drinks relates to excessive consumption. The acid in soft drinks can contribute to dental cavities by eating away at the enamel coating of teeth. There is also some evidence that the phosphoric acid content in some soft drinks can contribute to bone loss. Soft drinks, even no-calorie varieties, should be consumed in moderation.

You may think if you consume drinks that are sweetened with sugar substitutes containing no calories that you have reduced your energy intake by a large number of calories. For example, 12 ounces of Coca-Cola has 140 calories, but Diet Coke has none. In fact, studies have shown that you tend to replace those calories to the extent of 25 percent or more with other foods.

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