With summertime comes much opportunity for reunions, weddings, and just nonchalant gatherings of every kind. With gatherings come the many decisions to be made on what to drink. Obviously, filtered water is essential, but what can you do when water gets boring? For anyone who chooses beverages of the non-alcoholic kind, and for those of you under 21, my recommendations are simple. If you are working at being kind to your body, you are already avoiding beverages full of sugar. This would include 100% fruit sugars. Think of it this way; let’s say it takes about 6 oranges to make one small glass of juice. Have you ever eaten 6 oranges all at once? This is an unnatural situation for the body. It causes too much stress on the pancreas and the glucose/insulin factors. If you are juicing fruits for the vitamins, you must also understand that the vitamin content depletes rapidly at the instant of juicing. Within 60-120 seconds, the vitamin and antioxidant content has dropped by at least 50%. Instead of juices, opt for lemon, lime, mint leaf, orange, or cucumber infused water. Just let the substance you choose sit in the water for awhile in the fridge. It is actually a wonderful refreshing treat or change from regular water. You can also add your favorite tea bags to the water for flavor. Sparkling water is also a nice change up. Infuse it the same way or try one of the naturally flavored sparkling waters that do not contain sugar. If you absolutely need more taste, add just a splash of pomegranate or another high antioxidant natural juice. Kombucha is also a wonderful alternative to plain water. Because of the specific fermentation process, this is a powerpacked superfood (or superdrink in this case). You can even make it yourself. Eventhough it takes sugar to ferment it, when the process is done, the sugar no longer has an effect on the insulin levels of your cells. When purchasing in the store, find the variety with 2g of sugar or less.
As far as coffee is concerned, it really depends on your individual situation. Some people do fine with coffee. I will even go as far as to say that many Americans are unknowingly using coffee as their multivitamin as it really is packed with good vitamins and minerals. However, it becomes quite easy to overdo it with coffee. Put it this way, if you wake up feeling like you NEED coffee to get through your morning, you have an issue with your adrenal glands and should have that looked into by a competent nutritionist. If you are someone who has a cup of coffee here and there for a ‘treat’, you’re good to go. No matter which category you fall into though, always look for an organic variety as the coffee bean is one of those crops that is full of pesticides if not organic. If you want to avoid the caffeine, look for water processed decaf. If it is not water processed, the caffeine is stripped from the bean using formaldehyde and other chemicals.
For those of you who choose a spirited beverage once in a while, there are ways to make the experience healthier for you. Remember that ALL alcohol breaks down directly into sugar in your body so keeping it to a minimum in any case is important. First, as you have probably heard, red wine contains an age defying substance called resveratrol. The darker the red wine, the better. Wine also contains sulfites, however. Sulfites are little substances that cause free-radical damage to your cells. The sulfites are usually the problem in the case of wine headaches. Always look for sulfite free wine produced with organically grown grapes. When it comes to beer, the gluten free varieties are substantially healthier for you. They are usually derived from rice or oats which are not rancid at the time of brewing as in the case of wheat or barley. There are several varieties out there; you’ll just need to do a little extra research at purchasing time. As far as liquor goes, it is my opinion that grain derived spirits are worse for you than non-grain derived varieties. For example, there are organic vodkas available derived from potatoes. This would be a much better choice than regular vodka. The ‘healthiest’ liquor in my opinion would be high end tequila. Because tequila is typically created from the agave plant, it is starting off healthier than other liquors. The process used to ferment the agave plant is also superior to other liquors. A quick disclaimer here: I do not believe agave SWEETENERS are healthy. The sweeteners derived from the agave plant are, in my opinion, no better than high fructose corn syrup due to the high temperatures at which most of them are processed. Back to the tequila-use a high end variety mixed with your favorite flavor of sparkling water and lime.
Eventhough you may be used to certain drinks, you don’t have to be stuck with an unhealthy one, there are always ways to make that drink a little better for you. Small steps over time…