Rachel Jones, nutritionist at University of Utah, identifies the top ten healthiest drinks and how these fluids can positively affect your body.
Fifty to 75 percent of what you are is water. That said, staying well hydrated during the winter months can actually be more difficult that during the dog days of summer. Utah is dry in the summer and even drier in the winter. Especially indoors. You may notice rough or cracked skin more in winter. Water losses are significant. Normally we lose about 10 CUPS of water every day through sweating, breathing, urine, etc. In the winter, the losses can be more than that every day. It is recommended that we drink between 9-12 cups of water (or more if you’re active). I recommend my students try to hydrate with 3 liters of water daily if they’re female and 4 liters if they’re male. After students get used to visiting the bathroom frequently at first, they begin to notice more energy and better appetite control over time. In fact, staying well hydrated with water every day has the same effect as that caffeinated soft drinks, energy drinks, coffee, etc. without the “crash”. Try this experiment on for yourself. As your body adjusts to adequate hydration, be ok with more frequent bathroom breaks for a short time.
Milk’s got it all. Protein, calcium, phosphorous, potassium, and the new superstar, vitamin D. These are critical nutrients for all cells to function well. Your body has to build an estimated 50,000 protein-containing elements every day. It may be surprising to note that 40% of Americans don’t get enough protein. Milk contains all the essential amino acids your body requires to build muscles and use fat for energy throughout the day. In Utah, we don’t produce any significant amount of vitamin D in the winter because we’re not exposed to sunlight every day. Vitamin D is important for lowering our risk of depression, obesity, MS, arthritis, and several cancers. Milk is a good source of vitamin D. Every cell in our body balances the major minerals calcium, phosphorous, sodium and potassium. When these are out of balance, cells suffer. Hypertension (high blood pressure) happens with a high amount of sodium circulating in our bodies. The minerals in milk help balance out our high sodium intake from prepackaged and fast food. Three cups a day will provide as much protein as a grilled chicken breast and a perfect blend of minerals to balance our high sodium lifestyles.
3. Green drinks
Ten servings of fruits and veggies is hard for most of us to get in our diets every day. Sadly, most Utahns intake is closer to one or two servings. Just because we don’t eat a basketful of veggies every day, doesn’t mean our bodies don’t require the nutrition. In fact, not eating enough fruits and veggies can send our bodies into stress mode. Magnesium is a mineral found in green vegetables. It’s known as the “calming” mineral, important for muscles and optimal brain function. Key vitamins and minerals can be found in veggies and fruits. Vitamins that help us perform optimally in our jobs, with our families, and protect us from illness. The reality is, if you don’t eat your veggies, it may be to your advantage to eat them. Green drinks made from things like spinach, broccoli, and carrots come in a variety of forms. Fresh options in the produce section include those made by Bolthouse. There are freeze dried powdered products available to add to your water bottle or protein shake.
4. Purple juices/ grape, pomegranate, acai and blueberries
These juices are royal in color. Deep blues, reds and purples containing cancer fighting agents and vitamin helpers. There are exciting combinations like blueberry and acai, or grape and pomegranate. These tiny berries are nutrition powerhouses that are currently being studied by researchers all over the world for their anti-aging properties. Welch’s 100% grape juice is the least expensive, while some manufacturers charge $50 per bottle. You can benefit from small doses of these superberry juices. One to four ounces per day does the trick.
5. Joint Juice
A well known orthopedic surgeon came up with the idea of putting a helpful joint supplement in a tart, carbonated beverage. Glucosamine is a common sports supplement used by athletes who torture their muscles and joints regularly. At 30 calories a can, this drink contains 1500 mg of glucosamine and 100% of the Daily Value for vitamin C. Anyone interested enhancing the health of their shoulders or knees may find this drink helpful. It’s endorsed by the Arthritis Foundation and found in most grocery and drugstores. They’ve recently introduced a sports water with the same light taste and added electrolytes for athletes.
6. Tomato juice/ V8
Tomatoes are a tasty anti-cancer option. People who drink tomato juice on a regular basis can be assured they are getting a good dose of vitamins A and C. Another case of “drink your veggies if you’re not eating them”.
7. Herbal teas
Spices are like mini-veggies. Powerhouses of nutrition in small packages. Lots of research is being directed at spices and herbs. At a recent conference I attended in California, called Experimental Biology, where all the biology researchers from all over the globe congregate, much attention was paid to the anti-aging and anti-cancer properties of herbs and spices. Herbal teas are usually non-caffeinated, non-caloric, and soothing. You will find spices like ginger, cinnamon, lemon grass, Echinacea and cammomile in the tea section of the supermarket. They offer benefits when consumed warm or cold. Watch out for sweeteners. My favorite sweetener is a teaspoon of honey.
8. Green tea
Green tea has demonstrated an ability to bump up metabolism and fat-burning. Loaded with antioxidants and minimal caffeine (less than a diet coke), this may qualify as a much better “picker upper” in the afternoon than artificially sweetened, phosphate-loaded diet coke. Watch out for the bottled versions in the fridge at 7-11. They’re mostly high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners with a tiny bit of green tea. Best to make your own from a teabag and gently sweeten with honey.
9. Fiber supplements
People who get the recommended 25 grams of fiber if female and 38 if male, do it on purpose. They include foods like oatmeal and high fiber brown rice, lots of fruits and veggies too. As a payback, they have healthier cholesterol levels, less body fat and overall better intestinal systems. If you’ve ever tried to get the recommended fiber for one day, you’ll probably have to include a fiber supplement. Fiber soaks up fat in the intestines and blood vessels providing less chance for fat to deposit in your arteries or around your middle.
10. Whey protein
This is the perfect between meal beverage when you need something to tide you over until dinner, fuel your workout or help you sleep like a baby at night. Whey protein contains all nine essential amino acids because it’s a component of dairy products. Lance Armstrong uses whey protein. Governor “Arnold” uses whey protein. Michael Phelps uses whey protein. Daria Tores uses whey protein. Sara Palin uses whey protein. The best bodies in the world know the benefits of whey protein. Find one that tastes good and provides about 20 grams/serving. That’s as much as a small steak.
Look for these at the grocery store
1. Water bottles to keep at your desk. Even better, a reusable water bottle you can refill throughout the day.
2. Flavored milks are just as nutritious as regular milk. All the same stuff—calcium, phosphorous, potassium, vitamin D and much more. Even flavored drinks contain only half the amount of sugar in soda or juice.
3. Greens 2 Go, Bolthouse Green Goodness, MegaFood Organic Greens
4. Bolthouse Blueberry and Acai, Welch’s 100% grape juice, V8 Fusion
5. Joint Juice
6. V8 low sodium
7. Yogi Tea, The Republic of Tea
8. Same as above
9. Metamucil, BeneFiber, Whole Foods FiberGuard, The Fiber 35 Diet Sprinkle Fiber
10. BSN Syntha 6