Kayla Slater, Columnist
You have probably heard that too much soda, caffeine and sugar affects your health. Unfortunately, sugar and caffeine are abundant in our diets, especially as college students. Do you drink coffee to get through your day? Did you eat handfuls of Halloween candy this past weekend? Do you drink more than two or three sodas a day? If so, you may be overloading on sugar and caffeine.
Soda contains high amounts of carbohydrates, sugar and sweeteners with no nutritional value. Soft drinks are widely available in grocery stores, the dining halls and fast food restaurants. Many people are consuming too much soda since fountain drinks often have refills, it’s relatively cheap and some people prefer flavored drinks over water. Coffee, teas, soda and energy drinks contain high amounts of caffeine, which college students often rely on to stay awake.
Many packaged foods contain high amounts of refined sugar. Americans intake about three pounds of sugar a week. Sugar has been linked to weight gain as well as increasing the risk of developing hypertension, heart disease and diabetes. According to the American Heart Association, the recommended amount of sugar for women is 100 calories or 6 tsp. and for men 150 calories or 9 tsp. a day. An 8 oz. cola contains about 44 grams of sugar which is about 11 teaspoons. One can of soda is over the recommended amount of sugar for women and men. Drinking too much caffeine can have several side effects which include anxiety, depression, increased heart rate, restlessness, headache and withdrawal symptoms. The recommendation is to have a moderate amount of caffeine intake which is 200-400 mg.. An 8 oz cola contains 39 mg. of caffeine. A tall Starbucks coffee (12 oz.) contains 260 mg. If a person had a tall coffee in the morning and a can of coke later in the day, they would exceed the recommendation of the amount of caffeine.
Some tips to reduce your caffeine and sugar intake are to limit sugary soft drinks, energy drinks, processed foods and simple sugars. Try to replace soda with water or natural juice. Cut back on added sugar to certain foods that already have sugar like fruit. Buy 100 percent fruit juices and fresh fruits instead of canned. Focus on eating more whole grain breads than white bread, since white grains will turn into sugar. Limit desserts and check labels for added sugar. As for caffeine, limit coffee to no more than three to four cups per day.