According to the USDA, the five most popular drinks consumed by Americans in 2010 were soda, coffee and tea, milk, 100 percent fruit juice and alcohol. This data is from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, which are re-evaluated every five years. Will soda budge from its number one spot? Let’s hope so!
The high amount of sugar in many beverages leaves us with off balance blood sugar while the caffeine leaves us wired and tired. Not a great combination for feeling energized, focused and ready to accomplish what’s on our to-do list. And I’m not just talking about soda! Coffee is of course a heavily relied on caffeine source. But, don’t forget that all those mixed and flavored coffee beverages are also loaded with sugar or chemical sweeteners. Fruit juice and alcohol are also very concentrated sources of sugar.
One of the first thing I focus on with my clients is what they are putting in their glasses and mugs – not necessarily what’s on their dinner plate. Changing what you drink is an excellent and critical first step in improving your health. Chances are if you make healthier beverage choices, the healthy food will follow.
Here are three simple ways to sip your way to great health:
1. Get Lively with Lemon: Lemons are a powerhouse food that can benefit us in many ways. They are rich in vitamin C, which can neutralize free radicals and help boost our immune system. Lemon helps support healthy digestion and they contain an important substance called glutathione. Glutathione helps the liver clean out built up toxins so they can be eliminated from the body. One of the best ways to start incorporating lemon is to start your day with a cup of hot water and a squeeze of lemon. This gives your body a health jumpstart first thing in the morning. Just be sure to use organic lemons if you put the whole lemon slice in your drink. Otherwise, just add the juice and discard the rind.
2. Drink Your Greens: One of my students recently made just one change to her diet – she added a green smoothie every morning. Within a few weeks she had lost 5 pounds. Wow! Green smoothies are one of the best things you can do for your health. Period. They are nutrient-dense, delicious and take only minutes to make. Start by using spinach, as it is the most mild of all the leafy greens and work your way up to using kale, Swiss chard and other greens. Fruits like banana, pineapple, oranges and berries do a great job of covering up any “green taste” that some find unpleasant.
3. Goodbye Coffee, Hello Dandelion: Coffee is one of the most abused and addictive substances. While enjoying an occasional cup here and there is not such a big deal, relying on coffee to get you up in the morning and functioning throughout the day is a big problem. Coffee is very dehydrating to the body, stresses our adrenal glands, increases our stress response and in the end leaves us feeling exhausted…so we grab another cup. It’s a vicious cycle. A wonderful alternative to coffee is something called Dandy Blend and it can be found at most health food stores. Dandy Blend is an instant coffee substitute that contains roasted dandelion, chicory and beet roots. Not only is it delicious but, dandelion is particularly supportive for healthy liver function. Now that’s a great way to start the day!