In today’s fast-paced world, we often seek solace in our favorite beverages, whether it’s that morning coffee to jumpstart our day or an energy drink to power through a late-night work session. But what if some of these seemingly harmless drinks are actually harming our health? Let’s delve into the world of beverages and uncover the hidden dangers that experts are warning us about.

**Energy Drinks and Pre-workout Drinks:**
We all know someone who relies on energy drinks to stay awake or power through their workouts. However, New York-based registered dietitian Kylie Ivanir cautions against these caffeinated concoctions. She warns that excessive caffeine and stimulants found in these drinks can lead to increased blood pressure, stress, compromised sleep, headaches, and even nausea. Furthermore, artificial sweeteners and flavors present in energy drinks can disrupt gut and brain health. With a lack of regulation in the supplement industry, contamination with toxins or banned substances is a real concern. Ivanir suggests a healthier alternative—opting for a cup of coffee or a soothing matcha tea.

**Sweet Alcoholic Cocktails:**
Indulging in sugary sweet cocktails may seem like a fun way to unwind, but it’s not so kind to your liver. The combination of alcohol and fructose syrup can compromise the liver’s ability to filter out toxins and convert fructose to glucose. This can lead to fatty liver issues and elevated triglycerides, a harmful blood lipid. Traditional soda:
A 12-ounce can of soda can contain nearly 100% of your daily recommended sugar. Soda is infamous for its added sugar content, which can have dire consequences for your health. Inclusive plant-based registered dietitian nutritionist Amy Gorin recommends swapping soda for seltzer or sparkling water, adding a touch of lime, lemon, or orange juice for flavor. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025, people aged two and older should limit their intake of added sugars to less than 10% of total daily calories consumed. For a 2,000-calorie daily diet, this means no more than 200 calories from added sugar, equivalent to about 12 teaspoons. Shockingly, a 12-ounce can of cola contains about 10 teaspoons of added sugar.

**Iced Tea:**
Before you reach for that refreshing glass of iced tea, be aware that it can be laden with added sugar. Registered dietitian Jinan Banna points out that some bottled or commercially prepared iced teas can contain as much sugar as soda. High consumption of sweetened drinks like iced tea has been linked to the development of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. So, when it comes to iced tea, it’s wise to check the sugar content.

**Drinks Sweetened with Agave Nectar:**
Agave syrup has gained popularity as a sweetener, but beware of drinks sweetened with it. According to Ivanir, agave nectar can contain between 55% to 90% fructose, higher than high fructose corn syrup. Most agave nectar sold in supermarkets contains about 80% to 90% fructose. Excessive fructose intake leads to the conversion of fructose to glucose in the liver, which can result in fat storage, especially around the belly area. It can also negatively affect gut health, leading to issues like bloating, diarrhea, and discomfort.

**Juice ‘Cocktails’:**
When shopping for fruit juices, be cautious of the word “cocktail” on labels. It’s a telltale sign that added sugar is lurking within. Added sugar is not only unnecessary but also contributes extra calories to your daily intake. Nutritionists recommend choosing 100% fruit juice over juice cocktails to avoid unnecessary sugar consumption.

**Artificially Sweetened Drinks:**
Artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose may seem like a healthier alternative to sugar, but they can disturb the microbiome and damage gut health. Your gut plays a vital role in various body systems, including immune health, hormone recycling, serotonin production, and nutrient absorption. As a better alternative, Ivanir suggests sweetening drinks with stevia or monk fruit, which are not only sugar alternatives but also gut-friendly.

**Frappuccinos and Frozen Lattes:**
Indulging in sweet coffee drinks like frappuccinos may be delicious, but they come at a cost. Ivanir points out that these drinks, which she calls “sweet fats,” combine sugar from syrups and flavors with saturated fats from cream. This combination leads to excess fat storage due to insulin spikes. “Sweet fats” can hijack our brain circuits, making us crave more and ultimately leading to metabolic syndrome.

In conclusion, while we all enjoy our favorite beverages, it’s essential to be aware of the hidden dangers they might pose to our health. Choosing healthier alternatives and being mindful of added sugars and artificial sweeteners can go a long way in maintaining our well-being. So, the next time you reach for a drink, remember to make a conscious choice for your health’s sake.