If you're looking to shed some excess body weight and improve your overall health, you might want to skip your next sugar-filled drink and down a glass of water instead.

In a study featured in the journal Nutrients, researchers at Virginia Tech University found that swapping one sugary beverage with water each day can significantly reduce the body's intake of calories and lower its risk for obesity and other health issues.

Too Much Intake Of Calories

Health experts have long warned about the potential health risks associated with the consumption of heavily sweetened drinks.

The additional calories often included in sugary beverages, such as sodas, juices, energy drinks and sweetened coffee, have been linked to excessive weight gain as well as the development of serious illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Some studies also point to the relationship between drinking sugary beverages and poor overall health. It has been found that the more sweetened drinks an individual consumes each day, the more he or she is likely to eat high amounts of unhealthy food such as refined grains and processed meats.

On the other hand, people who consume only low amounts of calories with their drinks have been shown to be healthier and more likely to eat better. These individuals tend to consume more whole grains, poultry, fish, vegetables and fruits.

Replacing Sugary Drinks With Water

Virginia Tech researcher Kiyah Duffey and her colleagues set out to discover how changes in a person's drinking patterns can affect his or her overall health. They examined health data on 19,718 individuals collected as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2007 to 2012.

The team found that swapping even one 8-ounce sugary beverage with an 8-ounce serving of water can significantly improve a person's health.

Duffey pointed out that study participants who replaced their usual serving of sugar-filled drinks with water each day were able to lower their intake of calories from these beverages from 17 percent down to 11 percent.

She added that those who were used to consuming more sugar-filled beverages every day were also able to benefit from substituting their drinks with water. These individuals reduced the amount of calories they typically receive from such drinks by as much as 25 percent of their daily intake of calories.

Another finding is that the water replacement among the participants led to better Healthy Beverage Index (HBI) scores, a system of measurement that Virginia Tech researchers developed to determine how specific drinks impact a person's health. High HBI scores often lead to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

The researchers also note that switching from sugar-filled beverages to water can also lower the prevalence of obesity among Americans by as much as 33.5 percent to 34.9 percent.

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