Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

June 9, 2013

Time to drink more water?


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — What is in your glass this summer? For the first time in two decades, plain H2O is the most popular drink in America. The average person drinks 58 gallons of water a year compared to 44 gallons of soda. It took two decades for water to break through and take the lead. At first, I couldn’t believe soda held the top spot for 20 years, but then I realized the front runner had a lot of help from advertising and pop culture. Water was left unflavored and in the tap. It wasn’t successful until marketing campaigns jazzed up water and made it fashionably cool to carry around a water bottle. Like the trends of fashion, water was in and soda drinks were out. And then last week, a national study reported diet soda was as evil as illicit drugs. I knew soda was not the better choice, but I had never compared a sugary drink to drug use.

It has been two weeks since I had a diet soft drink. And I don’t even have a good story about my decision to give up my favorite afternoon pick-me-up. I simply lost the taste for soda. It happened over Memorial Day weekend in North Carolina. A friend and I spent the holiday shopping, relaxing and running around downtown Winston-Salem. We shopped and dined at a health food store that didn’t serve or sell any soda. And at other places, I ordered water and coffee. By the end of the trip, I realized I hadn’t even missed my usual soda. I decided to continue the streak. To be fair, I like coffee so I get most of my caffeine in the morning. I would drink water the rest of the day and have a diet soda in the afternoon. I didn’t grow up a soda drinker. My mom and dad kept a few two liters stashed in the pantry, but limited soda to pizza nights on the weekend. For a treat, we were given a choice of grape or orange flavored soda. In college, I probably drank too much, falling into late-night study sessions. However, I wanted the caffeine but not the calories so I drank diet soda. The habit continued after college. Then my fitness level increased quite a bit. I knew water played an important role in a healthy lifestyle, but I resisted giving up soda 100 percent until a few weeks ago.

Days after I drank my last soda, the new report stated that diet soda eroded teeth as much as meth and crack. The study compared the affects of soda, meth and cocaine. The results were featured on the BDT website and other media outlets across the state. But what is important to remember is that the study focused on the abuse of a particular drug or substance. In one patient’s case, she drank about two liters a day for three to five years. The other subjects abused drugs for years as well. Can you compare harmful drugs to diet soda? We know the affects of drugs; we see it in our neighborhoods and streets.

 I do believe our children would benefit from less soda and more water. I know I am better drinking water as well. The woman in the study abused diet soda and did not visit a dentist on a regular basis. The key word is “abuse.” Nobody should drink more than a two liter of soda in one day. Furthermore, according the University of Iowa, diet soda is acidic, but so are sports drinks, energy drinks and even apple juice. So what happens if you abuse any of those? I am not defending soda. Life is all about moderation, something I am learning as I get older. There is always a way to consume too much of anything — diet soda, ice cream, fast food, candy, fruit and yes, even water. For now, I am happy drinking water and of course, coffee. I figure a new study about the affects of coffee will emerge any day now. Will I drink a diet soda again? Probably. It goes well with a cheesy pizza. But the bottom line? Say no to drugs. Yes to water. As for diet soda? Let’s aim for moderation and common sense.

Jamie Parsell is the Lifestyle editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at jparsell@bdtonline.com. Contact her at jparsell@bdtonline.com or on Twitter @BDTParsell.