New beverages are popping up each day and the truth is looks can be quite deceiving. From the grocery store to the Seven-Eleven gas station, and then places such as Starbucks and beyond, new drinks with eye-catching names and ingredients grab our attention. I worked at Jamba Juice, GNC, and a place known as Mother’s Market and Kitchen (along with many other places) during my college years and while I enjoyed using the high performance blenders, getting a free smoothie and sometimes food, along with plenty of “nutritious” samples of protein bars, vitamins and minerals each day, I soon found out that they may have not been all too healthy after all.
But today I will focus on beverages and these days, even some of the “healthiest” looking beverages can be loaded with sugars, artificial colorings, and preservatives. And all of these things can wreak some serious havoc on our bodies, particularly in our intestines where we absorb the nutrients that are required for proper immune function.
But Dr. Jason, “What if it is labeled as “natural” or “organic?” Great question “Bob” or “Jennifer” or “Sally” or “Ezra.”
Like many things in life, labels can often be misleading.
And if you are experiencing things like gas, bloating, cramps, constipation, increased hunger and thirst and a plethora of other signs and symptoms, you may not have to look much further than the fluids you are choosing to chug each day (along with all the food choices you are making).
With summer upon us, do me a favor and take an extra 30 seconds to read the label before you decide to purchase that next drink and look for these common gut busters:
Sugars — The list is massive. Things like High Fructose Corn Syrup, Glucose, Fructose, Agave Syrup, and so many more.
Consuming too much sugar can feed the “bad” bacteria in your gut, causing them to overgrow — which can have many negative side effects on your health as I mentioned above.
In general, try to stay away from anything ending in “-ose,” or with the word “syrup” after it. And if you must have a sweetened drink — stevia is the best choice.
Artificial colorings — Blue, Yellow, Red, with a bunch of numbers after them.
In study after study, these harmful additives have proven to be carcinogenic. They’re even banned in the European Union. This one’s pretty self explanatory, but in general, if you see a color + number combination — it’s safe to say: stay away.
Preservatives — Again it is a big list. Things like Sorbic Acid, Benzoic Acid, and Sulfur Dioxide are just a few. Many more have even harder names to pronounce.
These nasty man-made chemicals can kill off your friendly “probiotic forest” of good gut bacteria — which can cause damage to just about every part of your body. Now, there’s no hard and fast rule for preservatives, but I generally tell my patients that if you can’t pronounce it, it’s best not to consume it.
I think that’s enough “negative” talk for the day. You should never end a conversation, meeting, or even the reading of a blog post on a sour note. Thus, here are some of my tips when it comes to the liquids you should be drinking.
1. Water – plain and simple – your best bet for a healthy gut and healthy life. Drink at least 8 ounces after you first wake up each morning.
2. Lemon – it adds flavor as well as vitamin and minerals to keep you healthy. Add it to your water and or tea.
3. Green Tea – it is actually a prebiotic / probiotic that aids in keeping our gut healthy and strong.
4. Turmeric – a potent anti-inflammatory. It will spruce up your beverage of choice especially when combined with something like lemon or tea.
5. Mint – it opens up your senses, adds a sense of freshness to your favorite drink and likely has some cancer fighting power.
6. Ginger – this is a game changer. An immune building, anti-inflammatory, that also helps with nausea and vomiting.
7. Cinnamon – one of my favorites. There is some talk that it helps with glucose sensitivity which helps our bodies use glucose and insulin better.
8. Stevia – if you do need some sweetness then this is my go to (at least for right now, until we know more or something even safer comes out).
The best part is, you can buy all of these items from just about any supermarket around…you don’t need to break the bank or empty your wallet to do so.
And because these ingredients are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals…
Your gut won’t be the only thing thanking you — so will the rest of your body (especially your taste buds).
To your health and wellness. Put today’s blog to work for you, one healthy beverage at a time.