Drinking Habits That Are Wrecking Your Body, Say Experts
When thirst strikes, it can feel tempting to reach for your favorite soda or energy drink. Nothing beats socializing over a few sweet lattes or hitting the bar for the occasional happy hour. While it's okay to treat yourself every once in a while, these common drinking habits can wreak havoc on your body, and over time, have some serious consequences.
Keeping track of each of these patterns can feel difficult, especially if you want to overhaul the way you approach your favorite drinks. Don't panic—we did the heavy lifting and consulted a wide range of health experts to figure out the drinking habits that can cause some long-term damage.
If you want to limit any future health issues to a minimum make sure to avoid any of the habits below and if you want to take your beverage consumption to the next level, make sure to consult our list of The Worst Drinks on the Planet.
Drinking empty calories
"Drinking soda and other sugary drinks like sweetened iced tea are bad for health," says Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim and a member of our medical expert board. "They contain zero nutrients, have added sugar, unnecessary calories, and are ultra-processed. Thus they can contribute to weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease. They are also 'liquid calories' and you don't feel full after guzzling down 200 calories. Many soda portions aren't also supersized."
If you crave a fizzy, sweet drink every now and then but want to make a change, consider trying out one of 25 Healthy, Low-Sugar Soda Alternatives for a delicious change of pace.
Not drinking enough water
"Fatigue also results from what you don't drink—and that's water," says Zach Okhah, MD. "Whether you're sitting at your desk, playing sports, or even sleeping, your body is constantly working. Your heart is beating, and your metabolism is building up and breaking down tissues and energy stores to help fuel your bodily functions. And when there's a lack of water intake, you experience a lower energy level, resulting in sluggishness and fatigue."
To learn the worst consequence of not drinking enough water, check out One Major Side Effect of Not Drinking Enough Water, Say Dietitians.
Drinking lots of flavored milk
You might never guess it, but your favorite milk alternatives or flavored milk can cause some serious damage to your health.
"We all know that milk is a rich source of calcium, protein, vitamins, and minerals that keep our bones healthy and don't cause tooth decay," says Amelia Brown, RD. "However, you can't expect the same health benefits from flavored milk, condensed milk and milkshakes that are full of unhelpful artificial sweeteners, which fill your body with abundant calories"
"If you're habitual of drinking these forms of milk, you should stop it to save your body from potential side effects linked with excessive sugar intake," Brown continues. "However, drinking them occasionally doesn't cause any harm."
Indulging in too much fruit or vegetable juice
"Fruit and vegetable juices and smoothies have many useful minerals but drinking these juices and smoothies with more than one small glass isn't encouraged," says Brown. "If you're drinking a large glass of fruit and vegetable juices and smoothies on a regular basis, you need to stop this habit."
When it comes to blending up fruits and veggies for a drink, Brown says "the natural sugars in fruits and vegetables are released and turned into free sugars that aren't good for your body. The sugar found in whole fruits and vegetables isn't likely to affect your health, unlike free sugars that your body gets in the form of juices and smoothies. Aside from this sugar, you may also add refined sugars to elevate the taste of your juice or smoothie, which increases your risk of obesity and other health issues."
Overindulging in alcohol
"This involves consuming eight or more drinks per week for a woman or 15 or more drinks per week for a man, according to the CDC," says Dr. Debanjan Banerjee at DoctorSpring. "If you're having too many drinks whenever you go out with friends every day during weekends, you may already be a heavy drinker. Once this turns into a habit, you are prone to have personal, social, or even legal problems—on top of the health repercussions you're facing."
"The best thing would be to avoid or quit drinking alcohol altogether," says Banerjee. "But if you can't kick it off, stick to moderate drinking, which means no more than two drinks for men and no more than one drink for women a day."
If you want to cut back on your drinking but miss your favorite liquors, take a peek at I Tried 7 Non-Alcoholic Spirits—This Was The Clear Winner for some great alternatives.
Drinking alcohol while pregnant
You've heard it before, but make sure you never indulge in a cocktail or beer when pregnant.
"Drinking during pregnancy increases the risk for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs), a term that refers to irreversible and devastating problems including facial deformities, intellectual disabilities, heart, kidney, or bone defects, and learning and emotional problems," says Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD.
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