Healthy Alternatives to Soda + DIY Soda Recipes

May 14, 2024
lady in buffalo check opening fizzy bottle of healthy alternative to soda with colorful drinks in background

If you’re tired of that crash you get after drinking a sugary soda, the caffeine ups and downs, or the weight gain, then it’s time to look into some healthy alternatives to soda! There seems to be an abundance of soft drinks available at the grocery store these days, but don’t worry; there are plenty of other, healthier options out there at the store and at home.


Homemade soda with natural herbal flavorings and homemade kombucha are just a few — and have you ever heard of shrubs? No, not the bushes outside your front door. Shrubs are a type of drinking vinegar (don’t knock it ‘til you try it!), which is another great healthy soft drink alternative. With all of these choices, you’ll be able to ditch the sugary stuff for good.


Discover the best healthy alternatives to soda with DIY soda at home using herbal flavorings, kombucha, and shrubs! Say goodbye to artificial additives and hello to wholesome options. Learn about healthy soft drinks and explore healthy alternatives that will satisfy your cravings without the guilt. From flavorful herbal sodas to fizzy kombucha, find the perfect healthy alternative to soda and try one of our natural solutions today.




The Legal Stuff

This blog is provided by St. Fiacre's Farm LLC for informational purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice, and you should always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider for any medical questions or concerns. Please note that we may earn a small commission on any purchases you make through our affiliate links, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!


What is so bad about soda?

Weston A. Price calls soda "America's other drinking problem."


Most American's are drinking their calories rather than getting their nutrition from their food. Think of the cases by the check out stands, everything in them aside from water is filled with calories and colorings and chemicals. Caffeine in these sodas also is hugely responsible for adrenal fatigue right next to coffee and energy drinks. 


Americans drink an average of 38.8 gallons of soda a year - per person. That's 147 two-liter bottles!


Let's take a look at how much sugar is really in soda. We are going to use Coca-Cola as our pop sample here. A 2 liter of Coca-Cola has .48 cups of sugar per 2 liter. That's 73 1/2 cups of sugar a year per American. That's 38 POUNDS of sugar. The average bag of sugar at the grocery store is 5 lbs... that's 7 of those!


While we don't have time to dive into the ills of cane sugar consumption here, increased sugar consumption has been found to increase:

  • Metabolic diseases (diabetes)
  • Heart diseases
  • Weight gain


                          Photo by Kayla Joy Creative


Homemade Soda and Natural Herbal Flavorings 

Making soda at home is the number one action you can take to start weaning yourself off of these high-sugar drinks. You will get the same flavors that you love and the same fizz, but YOU get to control how much sweetener, what kind, and what other ingredients are in your sodas. While herbal sodas at the health food store are all the rage right now, many of them are packed with other unwanted ingredients that cause different problems.


Let's not trade one bad ingredient for a different one. You can have the best of both worlds at home!


First, to make a good herbal soda at home, you will need a great natural herbal flavoring! Natural herbal flavorings will be the secret sauce to ensuring your soda still tastes like you expect it to. Natural herbal flavorings are a blend of herbs and spices crafted to taste delicious without excessive sugars or artificial additives. Unlike synthetic flavors that can be packed full of nasty chemicals and dyes, these healthy alternatives to soda will work with your body to provide both flavor and health benefits! 





DIY Herbal Root Beer

A great example of these natural herbal flavorings is seen best in making your own root beer herbal flavoring mix by combining herbs like real sarsaparilla root, licorice root, star anise, ginger root, clove, vanilla, and allspice, just like they used to in the good old days. In fact, that’s why this beverage is called root beer — it was originally concocted with roots! Each component boasts its own unique medicinal properties, and here are a few:


  • Sarsaparilla root: Known for its anti-inflammatory properties and potential to support the liver.
  • Licorice root: May help digestion and soothe gastrointestinal issues.
  • Clove: Contains compounds with antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.
  • Allspice: Can help with digestion and provide anti-inflammatory benefits.


These healthy alternatives to soft drinks are incredibly easy to make, too. All you need to do is boil the herbs, allow them to cool, and then add to carbonated water or kombucha (more on that later!). 

Either use this herbal root beer flavoring recipe or purchase a ready-made herbal root beer soda mix from Farmhouse Teas.


DIY Kola Soda Pop

If you’re more of a cola person, you can create the same flavor with herbs. Combine real kola nut powder with cinnamon, citrus peels, nutmeg, and vanilla. Kola nut even comes with its own natural dose of caffeine, so when you use it to make healthy alternatives to soft drinks, you’ll get a little boost of energy too. Some other noteworthy benefits of homemade kola-flavored drinks include:


  • Kola nut: Contains caffeine for energy and may aid digestion.
  • Cinnamon chips: Help regulate blood sugar and have anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Orange peel: Contains vitamin C and antioxidants and supports digestive health.
  • Nutmeg: Has anti-inflammatory properties and may help digestion.


And if you don’t have time to mix up your own herbs, grab this DIY Kola Soda Syrup Kit from Farmhouse Teas.



                        Photo by Kayla Joy Creative


How do we Make our Homemade Soda Fizzy?

Natural herbal flavorings like soda syrups are super important! But most of us know that a flat soda pop is not a good soda pop! So, what makes soda pop fizzy? Most sodas are mechanically carbonated by applying pressure to the substance in the can or bottle using C02 and forcing it into the other liquid or, if without a flavoring, then into water to make club soda or seltzer water. 


We can do this ourselves at home! The best way to do this is by getting a soda machine, most known as the Soda Stream. You can also use a mini or large keg to get the effect. Another option is to add a little bit of acid, like lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, to the water, add your natural herbal flavoring and/or simple syrup, and add about 1 tsp of baking soda to a 16 oz container of liquid. The reaction of the baking soda with the acid will create a fix. However, there is the flavor of the baking soda to contend with.


There are some pre-made options for fizz that you can add to your herbal soda syrup to create a fix. Here are a few of them and how they are different:

  • Soda Water- blanket term for all of the below
  • Sparkling & mineral water are naturally carbonated from volcanic gases that dissolve in natural springs; these contain some minerals. 
  • Club soda is mechanically carbonated with added minerals
  • Seltzer is water that is also mechanically carbonated WITHOUT minerals

  • Tonic Water is mechanically carbonated, added minerals as well as SWEETENER and QUININE




Kombucha; a Great Soda Replacement Option

Kombucha has been in the spotlight over the past few years, but this healthy fermented tea beverage has been around for thousands of years! It’s often called the “elixir of life,” and for good reason. It’s practically bursting with probiotics, antioxidants, and organic acids and is one of the best healthy alternatives to soda. There are many studies, including this one, showing that when kombucha is consumed with a normal carbohydrate meal, it can either help stabilize and/or lower blood sugars. This is great news for type 2 diabetics! While kombucha is helpful for diabetes, kombucha also has many other health benefits.


It’s made from a blend of tea, sugar, and a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (also known as a SCOBY) that undergoes fermentation to give you a tangy and bubbly drink.  As it ferments, it metabolizes the sugars in the tea and converts them into organic acids, enzymes, vitamins, and probiotics. While the kombucha is converting these sugars, it also sends off a gas, naturally creating fizz that is then trapped in a bottle, much like soda pop! 


Your SCOBY gives the kombucha its unique flavor and fizz and adds so much to its overall wellness benefits. It can help with digestion, strengthen the immune system, detox the body, and even give you a boost of energy!


You can always buy kombucha from the supermarket — it’s available almost everywhere these days! You could also save a little money and make kombucha yourself.




Introduction to Shrubs

Shrubs (the drinking vinegar we mentioned earlier) are another fantastic healthy alternative to soda! They’re made by infusing vinegar with fruits, herbs, spices, and sugar or honey to create a tangy and refreshing mixture that is super hydrating. Shrubs contain many vitamins and minerals that can help rebalance your electrolytes naturally


And while drinking vinegar may sound kind of strange, these concoctions don’t really taste like vinegar. Shrubs are often diluted with water (or added to other drinks) and the sweetness of the fruit and sugar balances the acidity, which will give you an overall fruity, zesty, and tart flavor.


If you want to know more about shrubs — and how to make them at home — don’t miss our full guide!



                        Photo by Kayla Joy Creative


More Healthy Alternatives to Soft Drinks

Homemade sodas with natural herbal flavorings, kombucha, and shrubs are just a few options to consider when thinking about the best healthy alternatives to soda. There are tons of ways to use herbs to create homemade good-for-you drinks that don’t contain any artificial flavors, excess sugar, or other nasties you don’t want to give to your family. You can even create homemade electrolyte drinks that will hydrate you and provide a ton of other benefits to boot.


Some options include:

Herbal teas: Brew with herbs and hot water, drink hot or ice for a new world of sweet teas

Infused water: Infused with the cold brew method

Water kefir: Fermented drink made with sugar water, herbs, fruits, and other botanicals

Switchel (Haymakers Punch): Made by mixing water with vinegar, molasses, and ginger 

Oxymel: Equal parts vinegar (flavored or not) mixed with equal parts of honey





Healthy Alternatives to Soda Frequently Asked Questions

What is the healthiest alternative to soda?

The healthiest alternative to soda is kombucha. This fermented tea beverage is rich in probiotics, antioxidants, and organic acids, and offers a ton of health benefits like improved digestion, boosted immunity, and detoxification. Its natural ingredients make it a wholesome choice compared to sugary and artificially flavored sodas.


Are herbal flavorings a good substitute for artificial flavorings in drinks?

Yes, herbal flavorings are a great substitute for artificial flavorings in drinks. Made from natural herbs and spices instead of artificial nasties, they add taste without excessive sugars or additives. They also often offer several medicinal and nutritional benefits thanks to the use of medicinal herbs.


What are the potential benefits of kombucha?

Kombucha offers several potential benefits, like better digestion, increased energy, joint health, and improved mood. These healthy alternatives to soft drinks feature probiotics, antioxidants, and organic acids that can support overall well-being, especially when compared to sugary beverages.


How long does it take to brew kombucha using a starter kit?

Brewing kombucha with a starter kit usually takes one to three weeks. It’s a somewhat delicate process, and things like room temperature and your desired fermentation level will affect the brewing time. We like to ferment ours for 7-21 days using our DIY Kombucha Making Kit from Farmhouse Teas. Tasting it for readiness is your best bet!





So many Healthy Soda Alternatives!

There you have it! In the face of extra sugary and artificially flavored drinks, these are the best healthy alternatives to soda. Ditch the soft drinks and opt for making your own homemade soda at home with natural herbal flavorings or kombucha instead. Nourish your body and quench your thirst all at the same time! Who knew healthy beverages could be this tasty and actually healthy?! If you would like to dive deeper into making your own kombucha at home for pennies make sure you check out our free kombucha workshop video series. Also, if you would like a printable version of this blog post along with lots of fizzy herbal drink ideas make sure to download our free Soda Pop Drinker's Guide to Fizzy Herbal Drinks. It's over 45 pages of herbal fizzy goodness!

I'd love to know which soda alternative you will try first: homemade soda, kombucha, water kefir, switched, shrubs, Oxymel, infused water, or herbal teas. Let me know in the comments below which of these you started with and which one you decided to stick with! We can swap stories below and help each other ditch the chemicals, lose weight, and feel great!


 Read More about Kombucha and Soda Replacements


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