Rethink your drink; choose water

The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa, together with the National Department of Health, Diabetes SA and other stakeholders, remind you to rethink your drink and choose water.

Why you need to rethink your drink?

Sugary drinks, such as fizzy drinks, flavoured waters, iced teas and even fruit juice, are the main source of added sugar in the diets of most South Africans. This excessive intake of sugar stacks up the kilojoules and often leads to weight gain.

A typical 500ml fizzy drink contains roughly 885 kJ, which would require walking for 5,5km or running for 30 minutes to burn it off. Drinking just one sugary drink a day increases the likelihood of being overweight by 27% in adults and 55% in children.

Despite the impact on your waistline, drinking just one sugary drink per day has also been found to increase the risk of developing diabetes by 26%, and having a heart attack by 29%.

Diabetes is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease, the leading killer worldwide, increasing its risk by 200% to 400%. With a country already heavily burdened by obesity, heart diseases, and strokes, please rethink your drink and make water your beverage of choice!

How much sugar is okay?

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 to 9 teaspoons of added sugar per day from all food and drinks. This is based on the World Health Organisation’s recommendation to limit added sugar to less than 5% of total daily energy intake for added health benefits. This includes any sugar in a food or drink that was added by the manufacturer or sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.

How much sugar is in your drink?

The best way to see how much sugar is in your drink is to read the label. Look out for ‘total sugar’ on the nutrition information table then calculate the number of teaspoons by dividing the sugar in grams by 4.

Use the ‘100g’ column to easily compare sugar content between different products, or use the ‘per serving’ column to see how much sugar you’ll have in that serving size.

On average, commercially produced sugary drinks available in South Africa contain the following amounts of sugar per 500ml serving:

  • Fizzy drink: 15 teaspoons
  • Energy drink: 14 teaspoons
  • Sports drink: 7 teaspoons
  • Fruit juice: 13 teaspoons
  • Sweetened dairy drinks: 10 teaspoons (includes naturally occurring milk sugar).
  • Iced tea: 9 teaspoons
  • Flavoured or vitamin-enriched water: 6 teaspoons

So, let’s choose water

Water – still, sparkling or flavoured with fruit – is the best beverage to choose. It serves so many essential purposes in the body:

  • Keeps you hydrated
  • Lubricates joints
  • Prevents headaches
  • Helps with digestions
  • Prevents constipation

Water is far cheaper than other drinks and contains zero sugar or kilojoules and will therefore help to maintain a healthy weight and lower the risk of developing diabetes or heart disease.

Tasty twists

Add a twist to your water with exciting flavours by using any of these ingredients:

  • Fresh slices of lemon, lime, grapefruit or other citrus fruits.
  • Fresh slices of cucumber.
  • Mint leaves.
  • Other fresh fruit, including strawberries, pineapple, or watermelon.
  • Unsweetened rooibos or fruity herbal teas.
  • Add sparkling or soda water if you’re craving some fizz.
  • If you really want to add a bit of sweetness, add a small splash of 100% fruit juice.

Not in the mood for water

Then swap your sugary drink for any of these healthier alternatives:

  • Tea or coffee without added sugar or honey.
  • Sugar-free iced tea, fizzy drinks, energy or sports drinks and cordials.
  • Try our Homemade iced tea recipe.
  • 100% fruit juice diluted with plain, soda or sparkling water.
  • A glass of milk.

Water Workouts Work Wonders

It is well known that diabetes responds very well to exercise. In fact, exercise is considered to be a cornerstone to diabetes management, along with a healthy eating regime and guidelines from your general physician. But have you ever considered water aerobics as your choice of exercise?

Read more in the Summer issue of Diabetes Focus eMag…