Healthy drinks. What makes something good or bad for you? In other words, what makes a beverage supporting for your body or not? There are many drinks on the market “claiming” to be healthy for you. Are they really? Can you trust the labels? No. Beside I can't even pronounce most of the words on some of these commercial beverages. Why would I want to drink a chemical storm?
Now here is where it gets a little tricky. Don't believe everything you hear. Always look at the ingredients. I can't name all the products for a couple reasons. First, there are just too many and second, I don't want those big fishes coming after me. They hold fast to the right to claim nutritious and healthy. This is a follow up article from my post Healthy Drinks Part 1. So if you missed reading that, go check it out for some supporting beverages.
Sweeteners and Calories
First of all - zero is not really zero (remind you of algebra?). If you are going to market electrolytes, which are salty tasting, you need to add sweeteners and flavors. Many sweeteners don't even have to be listed in the ingredients. You have your sugar which can come from genetically modified beets or any number of the artificial sweeteners by their many names. A popular one is sucralose and it is an artificial sweetener. They are not broken down by the body and all artificial sweeteners should be avoided. You can’t have something for nothing – it doesn’t exist. If you actually get something with a good healthy sweetener like stevia – you will pay a lot more for it and if you are not, then you are not getting just stevia. Stevia is a healthy no calorie sweetener made from a plant in South America. I actually grow the plant in my yard and those leaves are rather sweet and tasty.
Did you know aspartame, one of the many artificial sweeteners, has known side effects that include headaches, anxiety, abdominal pain, nausea, heart palpitations, and irritable bowel syndrome among other unpleasant things? Fake sugars increase your cravings for carbs and do not benefit you in anyway – even if you have diabetes. In fact, it is worse for you.
Then you have your natural flavorings which might make your head spin if you knew where they came from. Natural doesn't always mean it is good for you or that you would even want it. If you really want to know more about so called 'natural flavoring' check this article out.
Electrolyte drinks were designed to hydrate you. Electrolytes keep your body functioning as it should. Do you really need an electrolyte drink full of refined salt and sugar and food coloring? No you don’t. In my next post I’ll share some homemade electrolyte drinks that will outshine any commercial versions. It takes a good 60 minutes of high intensity training to really even need to supplement with electrolytes. If you're not going hard at marathon training, chances are you're just filling up on unnecessary sugars, carbs, and calories. Looking at the label, most of them don't resemble healthy drinks at all.
Coconut Water is becoming very popular as an electrolyte drink. It has more potassium than four bananas and is very hydrating. It is called Mother Nature's Sports Drink because it is naturally full of electrolytes. Most brands have not added artificial ingredients. But always check your labels. You don’t need to spend your money on this on a regular basis. Many packaged coconut waters are loaded with more sugar than you need and most don’t actually contain the amount of potassium listed on the label.
Fruit juice counts as a serving of fruit doesn’t it? No…UNLESS you are juicing it yourself fresh. The stuff you buy in the store is pasteurized and there isn’t much nutritional value left. Many of them contain high fructose corn syrup, sugar and fake sugars. No value here. What about store bought OJ – a staple of breakfast? Companies will often add chemicals and flavors back into OJ during the pasteurization process, just to make it that much more appealing to the taste buds. It all comes down to sugar: one study in 2008 found that drinking just one glass of orange juice per day increased a person's risk for diabetes by 24 percent. You are not off the hook by buying sugar free juice either.
Don’t even get me started here. I can’t find one redeeming quality to soda. Avoid diet sodas like the plague they are. A recent study followed 2,500 New Yorkers for 10 years. Those who drank diet soda every day were more likely to have a stroke, a heart attack, or even die from a cardiovascular disease. Another showed that people were more likely to develop metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
Powdered Drink Mixes
Powdered beverage mixes - you know those neat little packages. Read the ingredients. They are not what you think. Many have an interesting blend of chemicals. They get their bright colors from some unhealthy sources. Food dyes are responsible for causing food sensitivities and hyperactivity and many other challenges. I find it interesting when I visited Mexico and Europe that candy there is made with natural food dyes like beets and carrots. Many countries recognize the risk and require regulations with food dyes.
The only truly zero calorie beverage is water - filtered water. All the bottled water I have tested is acidic and your body doesn't like that either. Fiji Water is the only bottled water that is alkaline. It has been in the news that you are paying a lot for bottled water that is no better than tap water.
Drink water and if that doesn’t quite do it for you, I’ll have some easy to make-at- home healthy drinks that will hydrate you and taste great in the next article.
If you really have to drink something on this list that isn’t good for you, well then make it an occasional thing like once in a blue moon. I can’t even remember the last time I had a soda or some powdered mix to drink. There was a time I drank them all the time. I know if I started up again, it would be easy to make it a regular habit. But I care about my health way too much. I have more energy than people half my age; I know I can live with that.
Do you have a regular drink you just have to have? Leave a comment below if you would like me to make a suggestion for a healthier alternative. If you have a good story to share about switching over to better beverages, share that with us as well so we can help each other.
Photos provided by FreeDigitalPhotos.net: tivery lucky, John Kasawa, & savit keawtavee