Replacing even one sugary drink with water leads to health benefits

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Drinking more water may also lead to healthier food choices, researchers say

U.S. consumers have many options to pick from when it comes to buying beverages at the grocery store. The number of sodas, juices, and other sugary drinks are almost too many to count, but indulging in them too much can lead to health and weight problems.

However, a new study from Virginia Tech shows that replacing one sugary drink with water can go a long way towards improving someone’s overall health. Even those who drink several 8-ounce servings every day can benefit from this simple transition.

“Regardless of how many servings of sugar-sweetened beverages you consume, replacing even just one serving can be of benefit,” said Kiyah J. Duffey, a Virginia Tech adjunct professor and independent nutrition consultant.

Reduced calorie intake

Duffey and her colleagues tested this theory by analyzing the calorie difference that would occur from replacing an 8-ounce sugary drink with an 8-ounce glass of water. Findings were based on the daily dietary intake of U.S. adults from the 2007-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys.

With this data, the researchers showed that making this substitution nearly brings daily calories from beverages in line with national standards.

“We found that among U.S. adults who consume one serving of sugar-sweetened beverages per day, replacing that drink with water lowered the percent of calories coming from 17 to 11 percent,” said Duffey. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans says that consumers should get no more than 10% of their daily calories from added sugar.

“Even those who consumed more sugary drinks per day could still benefit from water replacement, dropping the amount of calories coming from beverages to less than 25 percent of their daily caloric intake.”

Dietary changes

The researchers point out that making small changes to drinking habits can affect the types of foods that consumers indulge in as well. The Beverage Guidance Panel and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans – an index created by Duffey and nutrition researcher Brenda Davy in 2015 – shows that people who consume more sugary drinks tend to have diets that consist of more red meat, processed foods, sweets, starch, and refined grains.

People who drink more water, on the other hand, have been shown to have diets that include more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and poultry. Following this kind of diet has been shown to lead to lowered blood sugar levels and a reduced risk of obesity.

The full study has been published in Nutrients