Beverage Bewares and Healthy Hydrators

By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.

Your body is more than two-thirds fluid. Your brain, about 90 percent. On a daily basis you lose nearly six pints − one in perspiration, two through respiration, and three through urination. So what are you doing to keep yourself properly hydrated and topped up? With tons of options out there, it can be difficult to differentiate between drinks that are junk and those that can support good health…

The Best and Worst Beverages for Your Body

According to surveys, the liquid consumption of most Americans is about one-third water, a third or so of coffee and tea, and about 30 percent as carbonated soft drinks.

What’s best?

Simple. We evolved on water and that’s what your body needs.

Water plays an important role in maintaining health. When people get sick or become vulnerable to illness, it’s because cells can’t properly take in nutrients and expel wastes. Often this is due to the cell membrane being dehydrated.

Maintaining proper hydration is simple. I suggest half your body weight in ounces, so if you are 150 pounds, that means about 75 ounces (about 8 cups or so) a day. Water contains many minerals and its alkaline nature raises the pH level in the body, conducive to healing. Sip hot or warm water with meals. Not ice water. Here’s why. Drink filtered water, if possible (I like water that has been filtered through a reverse osmosis system), and try to avoid plastic bottles, which can leach hazardous chemicals like bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates into the water (try to find water packaged in glass bottles). Many bottled waters are actually just more expensive tap water anyway, not to mention the enormous environmental impact of plastic bottle waste.

Are Coffee and Tea Good for You?

Every day, it seems, there’s new research coming out on coffee. One day it is positive, the next day negative. The bottom line: coffee is just about harmless, as far as the cardiovascular system is concerned; however, too much caffeine can trigger irregular or skipped heart beats. Limit your intake to a cup or two a day, if you are a coffee fan, and preferably in the morning. Don’t sip throughout the day to avoid possible stimulating effects.

Tea is great. Especially green tea. There have been many positive studies on the antioxidant properties of green tea, and it may even help you lose weight. Here’s how that works. Make home-brewed sun tea: fill up a large glass jar with tea bags and filtered water and let it sit in the sun for several hours.

What about juice? It’s natural, right? Well, I’m not a big fan, because of all the sugar in juice, even if it is the sugar content of the fruit. But we were meant to eat the whole fruit, which still contains heart-healthy insoluble fiber. Some juices like pomegranate, red grape and orange offer healthy compounds, but can still raise your blood sugar. Limit your juice intake, or – better yet – dilute juice with filtered water: 1 part juice to 3 or 4 parts water. This is especially important to do if you’ve developed a liking for lemonade, which is full of refined sugar.

Sports drinks like Gatorade can help you replenish lost fluids and electrolytes, but are not wise choices because they contain refined sugar and/or artificial sugar substitutes and colors. Unsweetented or pure coconut water, on the other hand, is a much better choice with lots of potassium and some magnesium too.

Red wine has received considerable attention because of the natural compounds that support heart health found in the red grape like flavonoids and resveratrol. But because of the alcohol content, moderation is the rule here. No more than two glasses a day for men and one glass for women. Same goes for white and rose wines, which boast fewer health benefits than red varieties, and beer, which also contains lots of insulin-provoking sugar, but without the heart-healthy compounds in wine. I’m not a fan of hard liquor drinks; limit consumption to one drink and avoid mixing it with additional sources of sugar like soda or juice.

Sodas: avoid them like the plague, whether diet or regular! “Energy” drinks too. They damage your body in many ways. For more of what I think about carbonated liquid candy, click here.

Lastly, if you reach for milk to quench your thirst or add to your coffee, be sure to go with an organic variety, as conventional brands generally contain traces of harmful hormones, antibiotics, GMOs, and pesticides. Research shows that whole milk can be a healthier choice than non- or low-fat milk. I also highly recommend coconut milk as a dairy-free alternative.

Learn More:

Watch my Healthy Cooking Sinatra-Smart Smoothie video to learn how to make my favorite fruit and vegetable drink and why it’s so good for you.

© 2014 HeartMD Institute. All rights reserved.

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