Beverages are the hidden thorns in our side. Some are really good for us, other just plain bad, and some look healthy, but are not. Many of us don't consider a beverage a food. Some don't count the calories of beverages in their diets or pay attention to the ingredients.
As women (and men) over 50, we have to adjust our thinking about beverages due to our age and/or health issues. When we were younger we could get away (most of the time) with excesses in our alcohol, sugar, and caffeine beverage consumption.
However, as we get older, our weight, our blood sugar, or circulatory system, and many other factors, must be considered before we down a soda, a third or fourth mixed drink, or even a glass of orange juice.
Hopefully, this week's blog post will help you in making those choices.
Let's look at a few beverages and make up our own minds about "beverages" - the good and the bad.
Fact #1: Some beverages have hidden sugars in them, making them unhealthy.
Fact #2: Some beverages that are advertised as "healthy or energizing" are actually dangerous to your health due to additives.
Fact #3: Clean water is the best beverage for your body - period!
Fact #4: Alcohol consumption is actually good for the health of some people, but not everyone. (The problem here is the definition of moderate and the drinker's tendency towards alcoholism.)
There are a few who believe the only healthy beverage is water. The following list of beverages are considered by most to be healthy:
- Clean water
- Green or White Tea (Even Black teas have health benefits)
- Coffee (in moderation, no more than 1-2 cups per day)
The following list are what I call the "iffie" drinks. They have the potential to be healthy, “if” they are done right (but they rarely are):
1. Alcohol (Wine specifically)
2. Fruit Juices
4. Kombucha and all other pro-biotic drinks
The last list contains beverages that are of no nutritional value and in some cases harmful to your health:
1. All sodas - sweet and sugar free (diet)
2. Mixed Alcoholic Drinks
3. Any drink with artificial sweeteners
5. All alcoholic liquers (including sake and other alternative forms)
6. Flavored waters that contain either sugar or artificial sweeteners
7. Energy drinks
8. Sports drinks (Gatoraide)
The good list is short, I agree; however, if you drink the amount of water recommended by the experts every day, you really won't want a lot of other beverages.
The benefits of green and white teas are strong and unsweetened, they are perfect for health and weight loss.
While there is no concrete proof as studies are still out, coffee does seem to have health benefits as long as you don't over do it. It shows reduction in sugar levels in Type 2 Diabetic patients.
Half of Americans start their day with coffee,
and according to a recent study,
working out after downing a cup of java
may offer a weight-loss advantage.
The Spanish study, published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, found that trained athletes:
Who took in caffeine pre-exercise
burned about 15% more calories
for three hours post-exercise,
compared to those who ingested a placebo.
(See http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/coffee-new-health-food#1 for more information.)
The beverages on the "iffie" list have potential to be healthy, but most are ruined by excess caffeine additives, artificial sweeteners, high sugar content, artificial flavors or dyes, and some have questionable additives such as guarana.
"Guarana is a plant named for the Guarani tribe in the Amazon, who used the seeds to brew a drink. Today, guarana seeds are still used as medicine.
Guarana is used for weight loss, to enhance athletic performance, as a stimulant, and to reduce mental and physical fatigue. It is a frequent addition to energy and weight loss products. Some people also use guarana to treat low blood pressure and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), and to prevent malaria and dysentery. It is also used to enhance sexual desire, to increase urine flow, and as an astringent.
Other uses include treatment of ongoing diarrhea, fever, heart problems, headache, joint pain, backache, and heat stress. In food manufacturing, guarana has been used as a flavoring ingredient in beverages and candy.
How does it work? Guarana contains caffeine. Caffeine works by stimulating the central nervous system (CNS), heart, and muscles. Guarana also contains theophylline and theobromine, which are chemicals similar to caffeine."
( www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-935-GUARANA.aspx?activeIngredientId=935&activeIngredientName=GUARANA )
Wine is said to be a healthy beverage and it is within reason. A serving (5 oz) per day has some health benefits, but the caloric content can ruin a diet (averages 127 calories per 5 oz serving).
"While the news about red wine might sound great if you enjoy a glass of red wine with your evening meal, doctors are wary of encouraging anyone to start drinking alcohol,
especially if you have a family history of alcohol abuse.
Too much alcohol can have many harmful effects on your body."
( www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/red-wine/ART-20048281 )
Most fruit juice is high in sugar, both natural fruit sugars and added sugar. It can spike blood sugar and then drop blood sugar just as quickly. If you dilute fruit juice with sparkling water or club soda, it can turn it into a tasty, healthier beverage. (I like to add club soda to cranberry-grape or cranberry-apple juice. I mix 6 oz of club soda with 2 oz of juice in an 8 oz glass. This cuts sugar and calories way down and still tastes really good.)
As far as energy and sports drinks go, I feel that I can recover just as good with water enhanced with electrolytes and minerals. If I feel my blood sugar has taken a drop I opt for a piece of fruit over the juice or sports drink. It works for me. It also keeps the caloric intake down and I get no artificial ingredients such as dyes or extra caffeine.
"An energy drink is a type of beverage containing stimulant drugs, usually including caffeine, which is marketed as providing mental and physical stimulation. They may or may not be carbonated and many also contain sugar or other sweeteners, herbal extracts, taurine, and amino acids."
Kombucha - What in the world is that, you may be asking - well, it is a fermented tea beverage that is a probiotic. When done right it is a healthy, low calorie, no sugar, and really tasty beverage.
(DISCLAIMER: These lists are compiled using research based on available information and my own experiences. I am not telling you what you should or should not drink. I am not an expert, but a lot of this is just common sense and your own preferences. I have found for myself that the less sugar, calories, and artificial ingredients I consume, the better I feel.)
What is your beverage of choice after a workout? Do you crave sugar and drink sugary beverages? Do you intend to change your beverage choices in the future? Do you read labels to find out if your beverage has any artificial colors (dyes), sugars (both natural and artificial), or unusual ingredients (taurine caffeine or taurine)?