The toasts have been made and the cheers have been said. Champagne corks were popped on New Year’s and hot toddys were enjoyed over the holidays. Don’t’ get me wrong, I love a nice glass of wine or Bailey’s on the rocks, but a new year brings with it new goals so why not make one of them to drink up on beverages that are healthy, some in ways you never expected?
Yep, we all know drinking water all day every day has so many benefits but it can also be something we tend to forget about drinking. But don’t.
Chew on this: your brain is 90 percent water and your body is 70 percent. On top of that, most of your blood and cells are water-based. Drinking water increases energy, relieves fatigue, promotes weight loss, flushes out toxins, improves your complexion, helps with digestion, and boosts your immune system.
How do you know if you’re drinking enough water? One thing to consider is the color of your urine. If it’s mostly clear, you’re probably good to go…and go you will! Something else to consider is how many people worldwide don’t have regular, if any, access to good clean drinking water and consider it a luxury. How easy we have it to simply turn on the faucet or visit any retail outlet and, voila, water. Clear and clean water. If nothing else, drink it daily in honor of those who would love to. Just saying.
Most experts recommend drinking 64 ounces a day. If that sounds like a lot of water and possibly undoable for you, spice it up with berries, mint, lemons, or limes. Me? I honestly don’t keep a running tab on how much water I drink each day, but I always have a bottle of water with me wherever I go, I always keep a big glass of water in my kitchen, and I always take a bottle with me to bed. I love water!
We all know that an aloe plant is the best way to relieve burn pain, but the juice made from the tropical plant goes way beyond topical. Aloe Vera juice or water are both great ways to hydrate and they have major anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve heartburn, digestion issues, constipation, and improve liver function. They’re also packed with nutrients like vitamins B, C, E, and folic acid.
The hydration qualities of aloe juice or water are also beneficial to the outside of your body, including your skin. A rich source of antioxidants, aloe can heal and cleanse the skin and may help reduce acne and other skin conditions like psoriasis and dermatitis.
I prefer aloe water but aloe juice also has a mild flavor. I especially like the pulp, but then again I’m an orange juice with pulp drinker. If you can’t stomach drinking it solo, consider adding it to smoothies and shakes. Just make sure to choose purified and decolorized versions of both.
Another popular water choice today is coconut water. I haven’t jumped full-blown onto the coconut water train, but it has millions of devotees of its powerful nutritional punch of electrolytes, phosphorous, calcium, and loads of potassium. All of these make it a great post-workout beverage as it’s said to replenish and refuel aching bodies and muscles. Again, if you don’t like drinking it on its own, mix it with plain yogurt and some fruit for a nutritional and yummy smoothie.
Unfortunately I’m not talking the southern tradition of sweet tea, which I do love. I’m talking green tea and other healthy herbal teas.
Green tea is reportedly so good for you that some researchers says it’s the healthiest thing you can drink. It’s all about the catechins and polyphenols. Catechins are is antioxidants that fight and may even prevent cell damage. Polyphenols give tea its anti-inflammatory qualities and anti-carcinogenic effects. Green tea has also been shown to improve blood flow, help keep blood sugar levels stable in people with diabetes, lower cholesterol, and prevent some heart-related issues like high blood pressure and congestive heart failure.
Tea, especially green, may also help with weight loss. Yes, it has zero calories but its combination of caffeine and catechins speeds up your metabolism and increases the number of calories you burn from fat.
What’s good for the body is also good for the mind.
Green tea also contains I-thianine, an amino acid that may help increase the frequency of alpha waves in the brain. The result? Increased feelings of relaxation and a calmness of mind and spirit.
I love bottled green tea for on the go and for lunch, but the best and healthiest way to drink it is to opt for hot, caffeinated , and unsweetened versions. Here’s why: much of green tea’s heart healthy benefits get destroyed during the decaffeination process and a cup of hot tea is much more relaxing than a cool bottled version while you’re out and about.
If you’re an old-school “I love to brew my tea in a teapot” person, more power to you, as the longer tea steeps the more catechins you consume from it. But, there are so many quick and easy ways to make a hot cup of tea today there’s really no excuse not to. I also enjoy a hot cup of peppermint tea to cure what ails my belly and some chamomile to help me sleep better. Whatever method and whatever flavor you choose, enjoy!
DOES A BODY GOOD
My name is Carla and I’m a milk drinker. Pure, whole, regular ole milk. I drink it every night with dinner and I’m not ashamed to say it. My 87-year-old mom has drank it all her life (and is known to put half-and-half in her coffee!) and is healthier than most 30-year-olds, so I look to her for proof that milk is not a four letter word. Yes I’m aware of the hormone issue and the almond and soy revolution, but for now, I’m sticking with cow’s milk. Except…I did recently discover chocolate almond milk and I’m sold!
“Milk does a body good” says the ad campaign, but all milks are not created equal. There’s that little issue of hormones in cow’s milk, so many physicians and nutritionists recommend plant-based milks like soy milk instead. With so many people today having dairy allergies and being lactose-intolerant, it’s good there are multiple milk options. But, if you don’t opt for cow’s milk, keep in mind that you may need to supplement potassium, protein, and riboflavin in your diet.
In addition to its signature calcium, whole milk from a cow also contains vitamins B1, C, and D; as well as niacin and folate. It also contains minerals that boost the body’s bone formation and enzyme functions. The Mayo Clinic says everyone needs calcium for bone health and to help your heart, muscles and nerves function optimally and milk is an excellent source of it. Kids who don’t get enough calcium may not reach their full adult height, and adults may have low bone mass, which is a risk factor for osteoporosis. In addition to possible harmful hormones, cow’s milk also contains saturated fat, so nutrition experts and The American Heart Association both recommend nonfat versions.
Soy milk provides an option for those who are allergic to dairy, are lactose intolerant, or just aren’t crazy about the taste of dairy milk. Soy is low in fat, rich in protein, and offers healthy B-complex vitamins. It’s also low in saturated fat but avoid the common added sugars and reach instead for unsweetened soy milk.
Almond milk is naturally sweet and silky and has a nutty taste of, well, almonds. But, it’s low in calories and chock full of minerals and vitamins like D, E and A, as well as calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron and phosphorous. Perhaps best of all is that the fat in almond milk is heart-healthy because it contains monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which research suggests can protect against coronary heart disease. Like soy milk however, almond milk often contains added sugars so it’s best to get unsweetened or “light” varieties. Pretty sure my chocolate almond milk does not qualify for this.
When comparing cow’s, soy, and almond milk based on calories and saturated fat, they are all pretty even. An eight ounce serving of nonfat cow’s milk has 90 calories and 0 saturated fat, the same serving of soy milk boasts 110 calories a .5 saturated fat, and an equal serving of almond milk has 60 calories and 0 saturated fat.
It’s no secret that coffee is hot…as in in your cup and in society in general. Whether you prefer a plain black cup of java or a non-fat sugar free soy latte, you know just where to buy it and just how to make it. But, did you know that coffee has antioxidants that may help prevent cell damage caused by free radicals and that it’s the country’s number one source of antioxidants? The number one source. Who knew, right?
Research also suggests that a daily eight ounce cup or two of either caffeinated or decaf coffee protects against heart disease and stroke. By regularly drinking a cup of joe you may just reduce the risk of having calcium in your coronary arteries, which is a sign of vessels hardening and narrowing and can ultimately cause heart attacks. Coffee consumption is also linked with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s and a lower incidence of death in general. With coffee shops on every corner and coffee taking up entire grocery store aisles, it’s no wonder we drink coffee not only in the morning, but all day long. Maybe this is a good thing, as those who drink three to five cups a day get the biggest benefits. I’ll take one to go please…and make it grande!
So raise your glasses to water, milk, tea, and coffee and say “cheers” to a healthy and hydrated 2018!