You Are What You... Drink?

Metro Editorial
Posted

People have long been told by doctors and health experts that the foods they eat have a direct correlation to personal health. But the beverages individuals choose to drink could be equally as influential.

The average person swallows 400 calories from liquids each day. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicated that around 37 percent of individual's total daily liquid calories come from sugar-sweetened drinks. In addition, these sugar-sweetened drinks could be more likely to cause obesity than fatty foods.  

Another health topic of interest lately is probiotics for promoting health. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that work in concert with the digestive tract to improve overall digestion and boost immune system function. Probiotics can help with a number of digestive ailments, including constipation, diarrhea, stomach ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and acid reflux.

Also, research indicates that 70 percent of the immune system is located in the digestive tract, which means probiotics can benefit other parts of the body, too. The intestines are necessary for absorbing important vitamins and minerals and weeding out wastes. When they are not working properly certain conditions may arise, such as vitamin deficiency, fatigue, and susceptibility to illness.

There are a number of foods today that contain probiotics or prebiotics -- dietary fibers that stimulate the growth of probiotic bacteria in the stomach. Now there are beverages that have these helpful bacteria boosters, too. Cutting back on unhealthy beverages and replacing them with better ones can be one way to get fit and feel great. But where to start?

First, a person can take inventory of the types of beverages he or she drinks on a regular basis and make some easy switches.

* Ban the booze. Alcoholic beverages may be the go-to drinks at parties and other social occasions, but they can pack on pounds quickly because of the calories. The average glass of wine contains between 110 to 120 calories.

* Say so long to soda. Sweetened sodas are a no-no, but even diet soda can ruin diet plans. Diet sodas contain artificial sweeteners, which studies are starting to suggest lead to weight gain.

* Choose zero-calorie drinks. Hot or cold, tea is calorie-free when consumed without added sugar or milk. Coffee can be this way, too, if you skip the cream and sugar. Of course, water is the go-to beverage of choice if a person wants to cut out liquid calories -- but there are other options, too.

Here are other ways to make beverages work for the body.

* Switch to low-fat milk and dairy products. While high-fat, high-calorie whole milk items may wreak havoc on waistlines and contribute to cholesterol levels, low-fat milk is the ideal way to receive essential vitamins and calcium. Plus, Researchers at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville found that having three servings of low-fat dairy per day can lead to weight loss of 10 percent or more.

* Boost tea drinking. Tea contains antioxidants that can fight diseases and promote overall health. Tea may also rev up metabolism.

* Monitor fruit juice consumption. On the surface, fruit juices would seem to be healthy. But it's better to eat whole fruit, because many fruit juices have more calories or even added sugar than an equal serving of whole fruit.

It's important to remember that beverages play a big role in personal health. Choosing low-calorie, healthy drinks is a way to maintain a healthy weight while simultaneously boosting general well-being.