You’ve probably seen a lot of news about the detrimental effects of single-use plastic straws on our environment and sea-life. But did you know that drinking from a straw might be bad for your health too?

“Drinking from a straw may cause digestive issues or discomfort because the initial sip introduces air into the gastrointestinal tract, which in turn can cause gas and bloating,” explains Sheila Mulhern, RD, a registered outpatient dietitian.

While there’s no scientific evidence, Mulhern adds that anecdotally, she’s noticed drinking from a straw makes it easier to mindlessly consume more liquid. When drinking sugary beverages like soda or juice, this could mean consuming too much sugar, which can put you at risk for diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

“It’s a common myth that drinking from a straw protects your dental health, but the truth is — the liquid will still touch your tongue and teeth so the sugar can still cause cavities, even when drinking from a straw,” said Mulhern.

Beverage Tips

So, what does Mulhern recommend for healthy beverage consumption?

  • Skip the straw, unless medically necessary
  • Go for water –try infusing fruit for extra flavor
  • Avoid or limit sugary beverages
  • Carry a reusable water bottle

Need that occasional iced coffee but want to nix your disposable straw? You can find reusable, washable straws in stores or many online retailers.

Sheila Mulhern, RD

Sheila Mulhern, RD

Outpatient Registered Dietitian

Sheila is a registered dietitian for Adventist HealthCare’s Outpatient Nutrition & Diabetes program.

Experiencing symptoms of diabetes or have risk factors? Calculate your risk of developing the disease.