Are you trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy body weight? You worry about cavities, bone density, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancer? You are often reminded how important healthy eating and exercise are in the prevention of many of these diseases. But have you ever thought of evaluating what you drink and the repercussions your choices have on your health?
Over the last few decades, we have witnessed a massive increase in the consumption of sweet drinks in North America. Approximately 21% of the calorie intake of North Americans comes from liquids consumed throughout the day. This in turn contributes significantly to the current epidemic of obesity and diabetes that plagues our society. In addition, because these drinks are not filling, people do not think to compensate for the numerous calories they drink by eating smaller meals. The main culprits are soft drinks and fruit drinks that contain great amounts of added sugar. Let us not forget the humongous smoothies and sweetened coffee drinks that are all the rage!
If you want to drink something sweet, “diet” soft drinks are an acceptable choice, if you drink them in moderation. After all, “diet” usually means these drinks contain chemical sugar substitutes. Pure fruit juices are actually a healthier option because they are rich in vitamins and minerals. However, pure fruit juices are not as complete and satisfying as whole fruits because they do not contain as many fibres.
What about alcohol, you ask? Well, it is a classic case of “a little may be better than none but a lot is worse than a little”. On the one hand, when consumed in moderation, that is one drink per day for women and two for men, it decreases the mortality rate attributed to cardiovascular diseases. And on the other hand, heavy alcohol consumption is linked to many types of cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, hypertension, dementia and some types of heart disease. Because heavy alcohol consumption can have disastrous repercussions on your health, you should abstain if you fear not being able to drink in moderation.
Low-fat milk is an excellent choice: it is a great source of calcium and vitamin D, and contains magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, vitamin A, riboflavin, folate and proteins. However, it is better to choose low-fat or skim milk to help lower your daily calorie intake. Calcium fortified soy milk can be an interesting option for people who prefer not to drink cow milk. Be careful however because flavoured soy milk contains high quantities of sugar and should be consumed in moderation.
This should not come as a surprise, but your beverage of excellence should be…you guessed it, water! Water has no calories, sugar or fat, and it is absolutely vital to the human body. Our entire system depends on it! It helps eliminate toxins from our cells, transport nutrients and maintain moisture in the ears, nose and throat. Generally, you can consider yourself well hydrated if you are rarely thirsty and produce between one and two litres of colorless or pale yellow urine.
Water is without a doubt your very best choice to quench your thirst without increasing your waistline! Cheers to water!