The adage of “Just because it is sold doesn’t mean it’s good for you” remains more germane today than ever. From Roundup and disinfectant sprays to scented candles and plastic containers, we are inundated with household items that are at best possibly harmful to our health to outright pernicious. Unfortunately, the onus falls on the consumer to be knowledgeable and vigilant as to what he/she brings into the house. We at Naturopathic Earth aim to help you in this endeavor with the ongoing series of Items to Purge From Your House.
The pantry and refrigerator are undoubtedly no exceptions. The overall problem with the large majority of drinks is that the high sugar content triggers the insulin response, which then it turns creates a cavalcade of deleterious effects on the body. For example, it enhances fat creation, places the body in an inflammatory oxidative state, releases cortisol, creates “Brain Fog” and initiates the well-known sugar spike-and-crash cycle. Read article on what you should/eat drink. In short, these drinks are “diabetes in a bottle.” Let’s cover the popular beverages.
The true “Coke-A-Cancer,” sodas are the universal devil of the beverage world. Laced with High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), food dyes (including the often-forgotten Caramel Color), aspartame, and preservatives, it is a true “chemical cocktail.” It holds absolutely no nutritional benefit whatsoever. Avoid at all costs, but if you must drink one drink those with Organic Cane Sugar.
As the name suggests, Sweetened Tea (most popularly seen in Snapple & Arizona brands) is laced with an inordinate amount of sugar to make it more palatable to the tongue and to initiate second helpings. Moreover, the flavored aspect of the tea is typically done so by artificial sweeteners and HFCS with trace amounts of fruit juice. Even if the tea is from the Camellia Sinensis plant, which produces the much heralded green, black, and white teas, you should avoid these flavored teas. Opt instead for unsweetened tea and then sweeten it with stevia, honey, or even small amounts of sugar to your liking.
Powerade, Gatorade, and alike are nothing more than “sugar water” laced with preservatives, artificial sweeteners, and food dyes, all of which are highly problematic to the body. Though touted as essential to athletes for their electrolytes, one can get their electrolytes from slightly salted water or even food. Full-fat chocolate milk would be a better post-workout alternative than these drinks. Stay clear of these drinks.
Commercially-sold Fruit juice
Commonly viewed as very healthy and a part of your morning routine, commercially-sold orange, apple, and other fruit juices should be viewed with an askance eye. Many are laced with artificial sweeteners and fillers. Even if one were to ingest 100% fruit juice, it is just pure sugar which will then initiate the insulin response. Morning fruit juices is unfortunately one of the biggest shams to befall the nutritional world. Stay away from them unless you are making your own juice. (See Below.)
Red Bull, Monster, 5-Hour Energy and alike are marketed as beverages that will bring mental acuity and enhanced cognition. The major issues with these drinks is they are extremely high in sugar and caffeine. Drinking multiple energy drinks a day has placed people in the hospital for heart palpitations and arrhythmia due to the obscene amount of caffeine. Many have died. The enzymes in them are great, but the high sugar and caffeine offset those negligible benefits.
Kool-Aid, Minute Maid, Hawaiian Punch are marketed as fruit drinks. Though they may have an inappreciable amount of actual juice from a fruit it is mostly constituted of high amounts of sugar. As if that wasn’t bad enough, it is normally in the form of HFCS which is extremely pernicious to the body. Moreover, aspartame, sucralose, and/or acesulfame postassium, the trio of artificial sweeteners, is commonly added to them for extra sweetness. Throw in food dyes, linked to cancer and behavior abnormalities, and you have a “kid cocktail” from the 9th Circle of Dante’s Hell.
Lattes, Frappucinos and other designer drinks from the big coffee outlets use loads of sugar, artificial sweeteners and caffeine to make the drinks heavily addictive. Not to mention the aforementioned increase the amount of calories and grams of sugar to your drink. At home avoid flavored coffee creamers and packets of artificial sweeteners of (Equal, Sweet & Low, and alike). Stick to black coffee slightly sweetened with natural ingredients like stevia, honey, cane sugar. Or for a nice effect, place some MCT (medium-chained triglycerides) Oil, Coconut Oil, or organic butter to make it frothy, satiating, and very ketogenic.
Naked and Odwalla smoothies are touted to be healthy. True they are more salutary than sodas, but the large majority of their flavors are carb-heavy, with minutes amounts of protein or fats. As a result, the insulin response will be triggered. Try to make your own homemade smoothies (full of high nutrient/low sugar fruits like berries and unripened bananas) and pack them in stainless steel or glass containers. Make sure to add Greek yogurt, peanut butter, avocado and other fatty and/or protein-based foods to optimize their nutrient load.
Please read our articles on smoothies vs. juices. Like smoothies, juices are a mixed bag. Commercially-sold juices, like V-8, contain loads of antioxidants and vitamins, which is great, but also loads of sodium to make it palatable. Opt for homemade green juices (laden with kale, cucumber, ginger, beets, celery, and alike) and place them in glass bottles to avoid the plastics. Though very healthy, by stripping the produce from its fibrous pulp, juices will initiate the same insulin-response as regular sugary drinks. Opt for well-made smoothies which keep the pulp inside the drink thus mitigating and slowing the insulin response when then promotes satiety, and curbs the spike/crash cycle. Green juices are a great, fast way to get supernutrients in the body, and compared to others on this list they are the gold standard.
Beverages to ingest on a daily basis.
- Unflavored regular water (preferably non-fluoridated)
- Fruit-infused water
- Black coffee
- Unsweetened “colored” teas
- Freshly made smoothies and juices.
To review, the biggest problem with the aforementioned beverages, despite their marketing campaigns, is that they are in essence sugar water laced with chemicals. Heavy consumption of them will spike your insulin, place your body in inflammation, and lead to a host of metabolic conditions (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type II Diabetes, etc). The best question to ask yourself is “Why drink your calories?” Wouldn’t you prefer to get those 300 calories from a succulent steak than a Big Gulp or Sunny Delight?
A. Gregory Luna, double-certified Health Consultant
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