By: Will Haywood
We’re in the last few weeks of summer. There will still be plenty of warm and sunny days which most will use to hang out with those “we need to hang out this summer” friends, squeeze in some last minute socializing, enjoying the sun, and having the thirst quenching beverages that accompany the days. A lot of people discuss food when talking about nutrition, but there does not seem to be as much emphasis on beverages. So what drinks have positive effects on our health and which ones effect us negatively? Here’s a look at some summer favourites, and some replacement ideas for the ones that can have a negative impact on our health.
Soda and Fruit Juices
As unfortunate as it sounds, pop and unnatural fruit juices contribute nothing to our health and are just a highway for large amounts of sugar to get into our system. On top of the lack of benefits, these drinks can cause gum disease, cavities, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Have trouble getting in your daily fruits and veggies? Opting for a natural fruit or veggie smoothie is a quick and fun way to ensure that you get your intake of vitamins and minerals. These can include a mix any of your favourite fruits or veggies, your choice of liquid (skim/almond milk, water, green tea), protein (whey, casein, or even pea protein powder), healthy fats (nuts, nut butter, seeds, coconut oil) and a topper (cocoa nibs, coconut shreds, cinnamon and other spices, plain yogurt or ice for a real summer drink). Click here to learn how to make a vast variety of smoothies.
These can be prepared in large batches, you can prep and bottle a few if you’re the host for the night, or you can just make enough for yourself to indulge in a nice tall glass.
One of the main reasons we meet to socialize at these events is to spend time with family and friends in order to de-stress. Alcohol can help lower our stress levels. In these social settings though, it can easily be over consumed. There are health benefits when used in moderation (key word) ranging from preventing risks of having dementia, ulcers, and even osteoporosis. Chronic use of this “zen” method can negatively impact your health and are not outweighed by the positives. Heavy alcohol consumption can lead to liver cirrhosis, upper gastrointestinal cancers and breast cancer amongst women, and traffic accidents.
Alcohol can also negatively effect your fitness goals from its impact on your digestive system, making it difficult for your body to absorb amino acids, B vitamins, and impairing protein synthesis. So yes, lifting, and then going to have a few drinks will definitely negatively impact your progress by hindering your body’s ability to metabolize the nutrients you need to recover optimally. So as great of an idea as a sweet, chilled sangria or spiked fruit punch seems initially, these are drinks you’d want to be wary of as high intake of alcohol, sugar, and calories can be consumed without even realizing it.
Not the most exciting drink, but it definitely helps sustain more life on earth than sangria does. As a party host, you can prepare water in a large jug with a few slices of lemon/lime for the detoxifying and immune boosting effect, and even a few berries for a little twist on flavour and added benefits from the fruits themselves. This is definitely a thirst quencher, and a sugarless, low calorie drink. Great for the weather, great for your health!
Natural iced tea/iced coffee
Grabbing an iced cappuccino can be refreshing, but can affect you negatively with the high sugar, fat, and calorie content if you have a habit of picking them up every time you feel thirsty in the summer. Try replacing the ice capp with a nice natural iced coffee by simply making your own fresh brew, chilling the coffee, then adding in your own skim milk. This way, you still can get the benefits of caffeine, and be in more control the amount of sugar, and the type of milk you’re adding.
You can also make your own natural iced tea. By simply chilling the tea after it’s been brewed, this drink will give you these health benefits such as:
- Preventing colon cancer
- Preventing strokes
- Protecting cognitive abilities
- Relaxing the brain
- Boosting the immune system
- Inhibiting cavity formation
Keep in mind that when you add milk to your tea, it reacts with many of the nutrients with in it, inhibiting much of the health benefits, so refrain from the dairy, and try adding some citrus to jazz the drink up and also increase the absorption of the tea’s nutrients.
An awesome drink for warm weather (when it’s chilled)! Made from the pulp of freshly grown pureed apples, this cider keeps the health benefits of apples by not going through a filtration process as apple juice does. So along with the great revitalizing taste of this drink, the phenolics, flavonoids, and carotenoids from the apple cider provide benefits such as lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases, asthma, diabetes, and forms of cancer. This natural, refreshing thirst quencher is definitely an awesome nutritious alternative. You can purchase apple cider from a local health food store. You can also check down your family line for anyone who might have had their own recipe, or use this one.
This drink is light, refreshing, and definitely has some style points with the added kick of fizz. This ancient drink that has been around for 2000 plus years in the eastern hemisphere is now becoming more popular here in the west. Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that goes through the process of effervescence to create the fizzy aspect. Fruits can also be added to the fermentation process to manipulate the flavour. This drink can replace the punch bowl, and without the adverse effect of alcohol and sugar content, you can enjoy the health benefits this drink offers you as you enjoy it on a warm day.
There are a wide variety of health claims such as the ability to treat illnesses such as AIDS, cancer, and even diabetes. Unfortunately, there aren’t many studies on Kombucha itself, but there are numerous studies on the contents of this drink such as the antioxidants, health promoting vitamins, enzymes, and acids. So along with its unique and bold taste, you’ll have the benefits of detoxification, aid in joint health, improving digestion and gut health, and boosting your immune system. Whoop!
So as we milk the last few weeks of summer, keep these drinks in mind and also save these pointers for next summer. Prep some of these awesome beverages, switch things up, and try some of the healthier options while hosting a barbeque, hanging out on the patio, or just enjoying a nice hot day at the park.
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August 15, 2015