Beverage Basics and Health
I want to talk about substituting our standard drinks for healthier beverages, like tea. Tea contains ⅓ of the caffeine that coffee does and is great for a pick-me-up. However, it also contains compounds that regulate the caffeine which prevents the crash following coffee’s caffeine high. Teas also contain antioxidants, green tea, for example, was is known to reduce the risk of breast cancer and improve liver health. A healthy liver translates into more balanced hormones.
Maintaining Weight and Drinking
Unfortunately, most commercial teas are filled with refined sweeteners, including the organic teas containing agave syrup. The problem is that sweet drinks raise blood sugar and ultimately cause weight gain. Many people drink organically sweetened teas in between meals when there is no fat or protein to attenuate the sugar rush. Once the sugar rush ends, these drinks leave you hungry. My suggestion is for people to ditch the sweetened teas and stick with the unsweetened variety, which gives you the coveted caffeine stimulation and an antioxidant boost without the crash.
If you have trouble beating your sweet tea craving, I recommend using either stevia and xylitol. Stevia is the Latin name of a small leafy plant with naturally sweet leaves and you need only a small amount for a batch of tea. Stevia will not increase blood sugar, which means it doesn’t cause weight gain. Xylitol is a naturally-occurring sugar alcohol with ⅓ of the calories of sugar, which means less weight gain than regular sugar. Xylitol also does not result in tooth decay and is used in nasal sprays to prevent sinus infections.
While drinking unsweetened tea is not harmful, it cannot be stressed enough that drinking an adequate amount of water is the key to a healthy body. Many doctors tout the importance of consuming half of your body weight in ounces of water each day. (The only exception is that those with kidney disease should consult a doctor before altering water ingestion) Drinking an inadequate amount of water can lead to dehydration. Additionally, since so many consume multiple caffeinated beverages daily, which increases the likelihood of dehydration, I recommend you drink at least one cup of water for every cup of coffee or tea.
Regular hydration is key our overall health, helping us have better skin, more energy, and a stronger immune system. It also promotes the maintenance of a healthy weight and lifestyle. While water is best, enjoying a cup of unsweetened tea for a caffeine kick is also good for you, especially with the extra benefits of antioxidants.