What did you have for lunch today? Did it include a fizzy, sweet, mildly addictive liquid, such as pop? While looking around the park during my lunch break, I have recently noticed the large number of people that have a pop to accompany their meals. Sweetened beverages like pop are the most consumed non-alcoholic beverages around the world.
These beverages may satisfy your sweet tooth and give you a burst of energy needed to get you through your day. Perhaps you look forward to it all day- the one “feel good” drink you can have at work. Unfortunately, however, drinking pop comes at a price. The media has done a great job raising awareness of the high sugar content pop contains, as well as the physical impacts pop has on our bodies, but discussions of the impact pop has on mental health is not well known. Some may stick to a diet pop because it is “healthier”. Diet pop is NOT any better.
A few studies have found consuming pop is associated with suicidal thoughts and acts, and other mental stress (Shi et al., 2010; Pan et al., 2011; Lien et al., 2006; American Academy of Neurology, 2013; Xuguang et al., 2014). The American Academy of Neurology study is interesting because it was a 10-year study beginning in 1995, and involved 263,925 individuals. This study was conducted to evaluate consumption of sodas, teas, fruit punch and coffee. The results of this study found that individuals that drank more than 4 cans of pop per day were 30% more likely to develop depression than those who did not drink pop (American Academy of Neurology, 2013). Shi et al. (2010) found approximately a 60% higher prevalence of depression, suicidal ideation, or mental problems in adults who consumed over a litre of soft drink per day.
Along with deteriorating your physical health, pop will negatively impact your mental health. Let the evidence be your support to change your drinking habits.
Some alternatives to pop include:
Water – the plain kind, or you can spruce it up by adding fruits, mint leaves, lime/lemon.
Green Tea (or white, black, oolong tea) – Teas are much healthier than pop. In particular, green tea has many health benefits and has been shown to reduce the risks of cancers, heart disease and kidney stones.
Fruit juice (such as orange, apple)– make sure you're drinking juice with no sugar added. Although not as sweet, juice can still satisfy the lunchtime sweet tooth and is a great alternative to pop.
Vegetable juice – This is also a great way to add veggies to your diet.
Carbonated water – A good alternative to pop as it has no sugar, caffeine or calories.
During your next lunch break, will you change your lunchtime drink? Perhaps try green tea or a plain old glass of water!
American Academy of Neurology (AAN). (2013). Hold the diet soda? Sweetened drinks linked to depression, coffee tied to lower risk. ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130108162135.htm
Guo, X., Park, Y., Freedman, N. D., Sinha, R., Hollenbeck, A. R., Blair, A., & Chen, H. (2014). Sweetened beverages, coffee, and tea and depression risk among older US adults. PLoS One, 9(4) doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0094715
Lien, L., Lien, N., Heyerdahl, S., Thoresen, M., Bjertness, E. (2006) Consumption of soft drinks and hyperactivity, mental distress, and conduct problems among adolescents in Oslo, Norway. American journal of public health 96: 1815-1820. doi: 10.2105/ajph.2004.059477
Pan X, Zhang C, Shi Z (2011) Soft drink and sweet food consumption and suicidal behaviours among Chinese adolescents. Acta paediatrica. 100, 215-222. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2011.02369.x
Shi, Z., Taylor, A.W., Wittert, G., Goldney, R., Gill, T. K. (2010) Soft drink consumption and mental health problems among adults in Australia. Public health nutrition, 13, 1073-1079. doi: 10.1017/s1368980009993132