The Wholefood Approach

Beverages

We have spoken a lot about food but how about beverages! Today we will talk about all the different types of drinks you can enjoy!

If you walk down the beverage aisle at the supermarket, you will find all types of beverages such as soft drinks, cordials, ice teas, juice, flavoured water, sports drinks and energy drinks. Most, if not all of these products are loaded with sugars and artificial sweeteners (meaning they can advertise themselves as sugar free), they have little to zero nutrients, are high in calories and do nothing to quench your thirst. 

The simple answer to quenching your thirst is H2O! Water is essential for our bodies and there has been debate throughout the years over exactly how much water we should have. The answer to this question is difficult as it also depends on the individual and factors like how active you are, how much you sweat, what types of foods you eat etc.

The most important thing is that you are listening to your body and providing it with as much hydration as it needs. The great thing about eating a diet high in wholefoods is that many of these foods contain high amounts of water – meaning you are also getting the hydration through your food.

Tip – if you are someone who doesn’t necessarily drink a lot of water, or you don’t think to drink water throughout the day, a simple trick to help hydrate your body is to get into the routine of drinking a large bottle of water every morning as soon as you wake up (before your morning coffee!). This means that if during the day you tend to forget about drinking water, you have at least provided your body with a good amount of hydration from your morning glass.

What happens when your body doesn’t get enough hydration?
We all know that water is essential for our bodies, but what exactly happens when we are dehydrated? Even mild dehydration can cause some issues, such as feeling tired, causing headaches, affecting mood and focus. In addition to this, water is essential to so many parts of the body’s functions from the brain to our cells, so they get affected too. This is why it is so important to ensure you are hydrating yourself on a daily basis.

There are a number of beverages besides water that you can drink to hydrate your body:

  • Tea – black, green and herbal teas. Hot or iced. 

  • Plant-based milks – nut/grain milks such as almond, macadamia, soy, cashew, rice. You can also flavour your milks with cinnamon, cacao, chai powder etc. 

  • Juice – vegetable or fruit. Remember bottled juice you buy from the supermarket is usually loaded with sugar, therefore its always best to make your own or purchase juices that have no additives. An example of this is Cold Press Juices that can be bought from Health Food stores or Cafes. These juices are made by extracting the fruit or vegetable’s juice using a slow method – meaning many nutrients remain. Any juicing or smoothie method that heats whilst it extracts the juice means many nutrients are lost. 
     
  • Smoothies – vegetable or fruit. As above, smoothies should only contain wholefoods.
     
  • Kombucha – is a fermented drink made from sweetened tea. It’s best to make this at home, you can find instructions and recipes online, however you can also purchase bottled kombucha at the supermarket and health food stores. Just make sure you are not buying the ones with added sugar.  

  • Flavoured water/soda/sparkling water – this can be delicious with a range of fresh ingredients such as lemon, mint, lime, cucumber or a selection of fruits like kiwi, strawberries, blueberries etc. 

The Softdrink Industry
Over the last few decades the softdrink industry has exploded and these days in most supermarkets there are entire aisles dedicated to these sugary drinks. Softdrinks are loaded with sugar, or artificial sweeteners, some come with caffeine (energy drinks) and most have lots of other additives. They also contain no nutrients, even the ones that claim to have some healthy or good ingredients. We also know that sugar is addictive so most people who drink softdrink on a regular basis can find it incredibly hard to give up. For some people going ‘cold turkey’ works best for them which includes cutting it out all together. For others a better method is cutting down over time. So perhaps you cut back and replace with a sugar free version initially, then cut back further on that. 

It’s also important to be mindful when you drink these drinks, so perhaps you have created a habit around drinking a glass of softdrink at dinner time or when you snack. This means it is more about habit and association rather than the taste of the softdrink. A solution is to instead replace it with another drink such as kombucha or flavoured water. 

The other point to make is usually people who consume softdrink on a regular basis also don’t have optimal nutrition, therefore for the most part when people start to eat better and provide their body with a whole range of nutrients, the need to consume softdrink decreases.  

What about Coffee?
The most important question for some of us coffee addicts! Is coffee healthy and can you drink coffee every day? In fact there are some reliable studies that show coffee does contain antioxidant properties and is good for our health – however what must be noted is this is referring to the coffee bean – the wholefood. So a cup of black coffee is good for us, but coffee becomes an issue for two reasons. Once is when people use it as a pick me up. For example they may have one first thing in the morning to wake up, then again around midday, and maybe a 3rd around lunch or afternoon when they feel tired. The other reason coffee can become an issue is when it is loaded with empty calories from the milk and sugar added. The last thing to note with coffee is that it is a dehydrator, which means whenever you have a cup of coffee it’s also good to get into the habit of drinking a big glass of water beforehand. 

And what about Alcohol?
For some people, the question about alcohol is even more important. Can you drink alcohol? Are there some alcohol types that are better than others? Can alcohol affect you losing weight? By now most people know that alcohol is a drug and is harmful to our health. Unfortunately there is no safe level of drug use and any level comes with some risk. The other issue with alcohol when it comes to nutrition is the bad habits it can bring on. For example, someone might be more likely to eat junk or unhealthy food when they are drinking, or maybe the next day whilst being hungover they may not eat at all. Another issue is the alcohol varieties that are consumed with soft drink or energy drinks, like a rum and coke or vodka and red bull. Or even the pre-packaged mixers.      

Alcohol is also loaded with calories. Depending on the type of alcohol, the calories in one drink can be anywhere from 100 to 300 calories which are classified as empty, meaning they don’t provide any nutritional value in return. Therefore when trying to lose weight, it is best to avoid alcohol altogether. 

There has been many headlines that do the rounds in the media about certain alcohols coming with benefits, such as a glass of red wine a night is good for our health. With all claims like this what must be noted is that there is in fact no reliable studies on this claim, and most of these studies are financed by the alcohol industry. 

HYDRATION CHALLENGE 

Challenge #1 – Get creative with flavoured water!

  • Pineapple, mint and ginger
    Chop up a little bit of pineapple, crush some ginger and add a few mint leaves.
  • Watermelon and rosemary
    Chop up some watermelon and add a few sprigs of rosemary.
  • Raspberry and lime 
    Add a couple of raspberries and a squeeze of lime.

Challenge #2 – Make a Golden Milk Latte 
You will need 2 cups of macadamia milk (or any plant-based milk), 3/4 teaspoon turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 tablespoon maple and a tiny bit of pepper*.

Heat the milk on the stovetop on low heat, add in turmeric, cinnamon, maple and pepper and bring to a simmer for about 5 mins. Serves 2.

*adding pepper and turmeric together significantly increases the nutritional benefits of curcumin which is the active ingredient in turmeric. Curcumin has been shown to be a powerful anti-inflammatory and boost the immune system.