You need to drink one thing and one thing only to be healthy: plain water.
Of course, if the majority of our population followed this advice, I wouldn’t need to write a whole chapter about beverages in Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?
But I did, because we’re choosing drinks containing sugar, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, chemical additives, and other things you should never be chugging and rarely be drinking.
As I reveal in my new book, the government and many experts have misguided us about food but also about what we drink.
We’ve all been told that orange juice is nutritious. We’ve been sold “sports drinks” that have nothing to do with healthy athleticism and are packed with sugar and “energy drinks” that have zero to do with energy. And we’ve been guided to believe drinking soda is okay in moderation and diet colas are a free pass.
All of those ideas are wrong and fundamentally misguided. In my new book, I talk about many of these problems, including these 5 takeaways:
1. Sugar-sweetened beverages are our #1 problem. These include soda but also many juices including commercial orange juice. Studies show sugary drinks are the single biggest factor contributing to obesity and so much more.
2. Artificial sweeteners are not a free pass. That same study showed diet sodas are absolutely not any better in the slightest than regular sodas when it comes to obesity and overall health.
3. Coffee is not necessarily good or bad. Coffee isn’t a health hazard for most people, but keep in mind that it’s never going to be a source of good nutrition or a replacement for the nutrient-dense whole foods you should be eating. It’s the biggest source of antioxidants in the American diet. That’s only because we don’t eat enough veggies and fruit. And some may be slow metabolizers leading to anxiety, palpitations, and insomnia. Plus, coffee depletes magnesium; so make sure you get a good dose from greens, beans, nuts and seeds, and supplements.
4. Juicing might be beneficial (depending on what you juice). If you juice mostly vegetables, you’ll get a potent dose of phytochemicals and disease-fighting compounds without all the sugar. But do it incorrectly, and you can get more sugar than a soda. Thing is, many “green juices” actually do have more sugar than a can of soda. Why? Because people don’t like bitter green juices and most contain lots of fruit juice, carrots, and beets. If it has more than 5 grams of sugar, stay away.
5. Wine? It might be healthy. While wine (especially red wine) has received a healthy glow, it really isn’t a reliable source of the antioxidant resveratrol. The key—and this cannot be emphasized enough—is moderation. Limit yourself to no more than one glass of wine at night.
I know how confusing choosing these and other drinks can become. In Food, I look at the latest science to show you how to make sense of choosing beverages.
Among the issues I tackle are whether coffee and alcohol can be healthy (emphatic maybe), why the best water doesn’t come in a bottle, the best and worst milk alternatives, and why juicing can be healthy. I’ll reveal the fat-burning drink that deserves a “green halo” and which beverages belong in the garbage.
Armed with this information, you’ll know exactly what beverages to choose and which ones you should avoid. There are good non-water drinks on the market, but you have to be a smart shopper and read the labels carefully. I’ll show you how.
If you want to keep it simple, stick with filtered water. Unfortunately, you’re probably opting for other drinks, which is why Food can help you make the very best choices and steer clear of so-called healthy drinks that are actually empty-calories, making you fat and sick.
In my book Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?, just out February 27, I uncover the truth about the food we actually eat—what’s healthy and what’s not in each group of foods we eat—meat, poultry and eggs, dairy, beans, grains, veggies, fruit, nuts and seeds, beverages, and more, and guide to you to a science based, sensible way of eating for life that keeps you, our planet, and our society healthy. I also address the environmental and social impact of the foods we eat.
And I take the guesswork out of how to eat food that has the best information, the best quality to make you feel good now and prevent and even reverse illness.
If you have ever woken up wondering what the heck you should eat, this book is for you. Check out the trailer and order on Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, or get it at your local bookstore. And you’ll get a free video of the 4 biggest food lies out there!
Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD