Decisions about which drink to choose are tough, but making a healthy decision may be the hardest part. Look at any beverage aisle in a grocery and you know you have a lot of choices to quench your thirst. Energy drinks, sodas and juices abound. Here’s some information to help you make a more informed selection.
Energy drinks provide more than energy, and not in a good way. What these beverages lack in nutrition, they make up for in caffeine and sugar! A UK-based group, Action on Sugar, analyzed 197 drinks. The highest amount of sugar in a drink was almost 20 teaspoons in a 17-ounce can. This is three times the limit recommended by the American Heart Association for women and teens, and twice the limit for men. The group determined that “These products serve no purpose whatsoever but make children addicted to caffeine and habituated to sugars.”
One of the unforeseen and potentially dangerous effects of these drinks was described in a Mayo Clinic study that tested 25 healthy young adults before and after they drank 16 ounces of an energy drink called “Rockstar.” Thirty minutes after they consumed the drink, researchers found a 6-point increase in blood pressure, a large increase in norepinephrine, which is a neurotransmitter. This happens because of the 240 milligrams of caffeine, which is a much as two or three cups of coffee.
Looking for something to pep you up without the risks of energy drinks? Steer away from sodas—both diet and regular. The American Heart Association published a study in April of 2017 that linked sugar and artificially sweetened beverages with an increased risk of stroke and dementia. Even juices are typically not your best beverage choice because of their high sugar content and low amount of fiber.
Your best bet is to introduce other beverages into your regimen. Try infusing water with fruits, vegetables or herbs. Strawberries, citrus fruits, cucumbers, or mint provide great flavor to water. Using Kangen water, with a pH of 8 or higher, will also help bring your body’s pH back toward 7, while quenching your thirst.
If it’s bubbles you are craving, add the same fruits and veggies to that. Or try Kombucha, a fermented beverage which has bubbles and probiotics. Finding Kombucha (or making your own!) with five grams of sugar or less per serving, is the healthiest choice. Lastly, don’t forget that you can make your own iced tea—regular or decaffeinated. And you are in control of how much sweetener to add, if any.
Finding healthy beverage options is a great step in living a healthier lifestyle. One more thing to consider is that sometimes when you reach for a pick-me-up, the best thing to reach for is whatever self-care you need in that moment. It may, in fact be fruit-infused Kangen water. Or it may be a vigorous walk, time away from the cell phone or just a moment to collect your thoughts.