When thinking of a healthier lifestyle, we mainly think of good food and exercise. But do you ever think about healthy drinking? Probably not so much, right? Healthy drinking is often neglected and deserves much more attention than it has received so far.
How much should we drink?
The general idea is that we need about 2 – 2,5 liters of fluids per day. We tend to lose 1,5 – 2 liters of fluids through urination and loose some more water through perspiration. Therefor when it is hot, you need to pay attention to the total amount you drink, or you may easlily get dehydrated. A lack of water may give you the following symptoms:
- Fast, irregular heartbeat
- A dry mouth, throat and tongue
- Feeling confused
- Feeling dizzy and week
- Muscle aches and cramps
- Feeling tired
- Feeling hungry
Make sure that you drink around 8 glasses of water, tea or some water based drinks mentioned above. But did you know that you can also eat your water through watery vegetables? Take a look at the following list with water rich vegetables and fruits (and percentage of water):
- Cucumber (96 percent)
- Iceberg lettuce (95 percent)
- Celery (95 percent)
- Tomatoes (94 percent)
- Peppers (94 percent)
- Watermelon (91 percent)
- Spinach (91.5 percent)
- Strawberries (91 percent)
What to drink or not to drink
“Water, water, the rest comes later”
As we consist of some 60% of water, we need water daily in order for our major organs to function properly. Most people find drinking water a little boring and tend to drink soft drinks, but hese contain a high amount of sugar. A 250 ml can of coke for example, contains 26 grams of sugar, which is almost 7 lumps! These are empty calories and we don’t like those! And while we are at it, don’t forget the sugar you put into your cups of coffee and tea - these may also unconsciously add to the amount of sugar you get during the day. This needs to change, so let’s make drinking water a lot more fun and make your drinks look beautiful. Surprise & spoil yourself with the following ideas:
- Add some fresh herbs like mint to your water, you can even combine this with cucumber and/or slices of lemon and lime
- Add some fresh raspberries to your longdrink of water
- Make a combination of slices of pineapple with coconut water
- Add some ginger juice and add some slices of orange. It tastes even better when you use sparkling water. It’s spicy and gives you a little kick!
- Essential oils are also great for adding a healthy taste. I love all citrus oils, they may even tame your appetite (try grapefruit!) and clean your system
- Add pieces of fruit or beautiful flowers to your icecubes
- Is it really hot? Then freeze your water with some delicious fruits and turn it into a popsicle!
Smoothies and Juices
If you want to drink something other than water, you may want to consider vegetable juices or smoothies. It is also an easy way to add more fruit and veggies to your diet. Be aware of the difference between smoothies and juices: smoothies still contain fiber whereas juices do not. When you strip fruit juice from its fiber, it turns into a very sugary drink which will spike your blood sugar. So limit the use of fruit juice and try to add as many vegetables to your juices. Veggies contain far less sugar and will provide you with lovely minerals that most people lack. [Want some ideas? Please take a look in our recipes ideas for (vegetable) juices and smoothies.
For coffee lovers there has never been a better time since more and more studies point to the benefits of coffee. Coffee contains more than 1.000 substances of which caffeine is the most famous one. Next to anti-oxidants coffee has a small amount of B vitamins and a fair amount of minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus.
Let’s take a look at the pros & cons:
Pros of drinking coffee:
- Coffee has a stimulating effect. You will start to notice this effect 20 minutes after you took your cup. Caffeine inhibits the normal breakdown that occurs throughout the day of stimulatory neurotransmitters like dopamine and glutamate. It also attaches to the receptors of adenosine, the substance that normally makes you feel sleepy. But as soon as the caffeine has been broken down, the sleepy feeling will return.
- Coffee has a positive effect on your memory. A study by Michael Yassin and colleagues (John Hopkins University) in 2014 has shown that 200 mg of caffeine improves your memory, by promoting consolidation during the learning process. (Taking more caffeine doesn´t have a bigger effect). How much coffee should you drink for 200 mg? According to the Dutch nutrition center, a cup of coffee of 100 ml contains between 45-48 mg. A cup of black tea contains 22 mg, green tea 15 mg. Drinking a can of 250 ml Coke will give you approximately 28 mg whereas an energy drink will supply you with 80mg!
- Coffee improves our driving abilities: you ‘ll feel less tired and as you have better concentration during a monotonous car ride you will have less tendency to leave your track.
- Coffee may protect against illnesses. A study by Anna Flögel has shown that people who consume 4 cups of coffee daily may be less at risk at developing diabetes 2. This effect is probably caused by the anti-oxidants that neutralize the free radicals that cause metabolic diseases. Other long term studies have shown that drinking 3-5 cups of coffee a day may protect against Parkinson’s and Alzheimers disease.
Cons of drinking coffee:
- Caffeine crash. Just like what happens with a sugar crash, caffeine makes you feel energetic and alert at first, but after that you’ll feel extremely tired. You will also find it difficult to concentrate and feel irritable. You may even have to fight your sleep because otherwise you will doze off. To avoid a caffeine crash, make sure you’ve gotten enough sleep, limit the amount of caffeine to max 200mg per day and don’t drink coffee on an empty stomach.
- May cause anxiety. Due to its stimulating effects coffee can create anxiety symptoms such as heart palpitations, sweating and trouble sleeping in some people.
- Habituation. Frequent use of caffeine (the worlds most consumed pharmacological substance) may lead to a physical and psychological dependency. The potential addictive effect is however small, since caffeine doesn’t stimulate the Nucleus Accumbens, the reward center in the brain that plays an important role in addiction.
- Higher levels of cortisol: Drinking coffee may lead to the production of cortisol and create feelings of stress
In order for you to profit from the benefits, it is important to know how well you can break down caffeine. Some people are genetically more suited to drink coffee than others, since they are capable of breaking down the caffeine more easily. But you will probably realize this soon enough by checking your own response to coffee!
Drinking tea may be even healthier than drinking coffee:
- Tea contains a lot of anti-oxidants
- Drinking tea boosts your metabolism: per day you will burn approximately 80 calories more
- Drinking tea may help you relax more and help you fall asleep more easily (as long as you drink tea without caffeine!)
- Drinking a lot of tea improves your blood circulation. And that has its advantages, especially on the heart. Drinking a cup of tea regularly could even lower high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
- Some kinds of tea can help with weight loss
- Tea lowers the production of cortisol
But as with a lot of things, it is possible to have too much of a good thing:
- Don’t drink more than 1,5-2 liters of tea per day: Drinking too much tea can affect iron and calcium levels in your body
- Choose the right temperature which is your body temperature. Drinking your tea too hot may hurt your esophagus and other parts of your digestive system
- Don’t drink more than 2 cups of really strong tea, it may cause problems with your heart and kidneys, palpitations
- Don’t’t drink tea on an empty stomach. You may feel nauseous or your stomach might hurt. The acidity of your stomach will rise and may cause heartburn. If you do feel like drinking tea, choose a natural variant like mint or chamomille.
Most of us love a glass of wine or beer. We love it because we associate this with celebration. It also relaxes us after a day of hard work and puts us in a good mood. That is, if you leave it at that one or two glasses. We all know that drinking too much can create havoc in your body and your relationships. Let’s look at the pros and cons of drinking alcohol.
The pros of alcohol use:
- Moderate alcohol consumption reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Alcohol consumption in small amounts protects against cardiovascular disease. However, this only applies to men over 40 (max 2 glasses) and women over 50 (max 1 glass). It stimulates the transport of bad cholesterol to the liver which reduces the chance of vessels becoming clogged. Alcohol consumption may also increase the blood's ability to dissolve blood clots. Drinking more reverses these positive effects.
- Positive Effects on Mood. As said above, in moderate use, alcohol has a number of positive effects on the mood: You become cheerful, looser and relaxed. You talk more easily and the fatigue disappears. In short; it can increase coziness and atmosphere and therefor it may bring pleasure. A number of studies show that experiencing this pleasure has a positive effect on health. But this is only likely if you drink moderately.
Cons of alcohol use:
- Decrease reaction speed
- Lowering testosterone
- Loss of qualitative sleep
- Hangover and dehydration
- When drinking a lot: alcohol poisoning (i.e. the concentration of alcohol in the blood becomes so high that one can become unconscious and fall into a coma), blackout/memory loss.
It is clear that the cons of alcohol outnumber the pro’s.
Long term physical effects: Large amounts of alcohol damages the nervous system in addition to the brain. Too much alcohol is bad for the heart. It raises blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart and blood vessel problems or a heart attack. It can also cause high bad cholesterol. Finally, consuming too much alcohol has a negative effect on your personal relationships.