Doctor’s tip: The healthiest beverage you can drink
In last week’s column I discussed the health problems associated with sugar, particularly in liquid form (heart disease, pre-diabetes and diabetes, some forms of cancer, dental decay). So what to drink?
Smoothies and juicing are current fads but are not healthy because:
1. The fiber, which is so important for good health and of which 97 percent of Americans don’t get enough, is mechanically destroyed.
2. A low-glycemic food is converted to an unhealthy high-glycemic food, resulting in a rapid rise in blood sugar, which causes the pancreas to secrete more insulin, which eventually leads to insulin resistance/pre-diabetes followed by diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
3. Chewing is important. What releases the health-promoting micronutrients in kale, for example, is chewing and the interaction of the food with the saliva and bacteria in your mouth.
4. Our bodies are not designed to handle a huge dose of even healthy nutrients all at once. We are meant to chew our food and eat slowly.
5. Mindful eating is important for weight control and other reasons, versus slamming down a smoothie on your way out the door in the morning.
One of the best things you can drink is water, and tap water is just fine. If you are in a developing country where you can’t trust the purity of the water, bottled water makes sense. But otherwise there is no evidence it is any more beneficial than tap water, and the plastic bottles are an environmental issue.
One of my favorite websites is nutritionfacts.org. Michael Greger, M.D., has made it his mission in life to stay on the cutting edge of nutrition research as it comes out and disseminate the important information to health-care providers and lay people. He and his staff review all the papers on nutrition that come out each year (last year there were 27,000). His business is a nonprofit, and when he presents information he shows pictures of the studies it’s based on. Yes, he advocates plant-based nutrition, but that is because that’s where the science led him.
Anyway, in recent blogs and short videos (if you subscribe to his website, you get these daily for free, although he’d appreciate a donation), he presents information regarding the healthiest thing you can drink, and that is hibiscus/berry tea (you want hibiscus to be the first ingredient on the label). This is available in local grocery stores. His recommendation is based on a recent study rating the antioxidants in 283 beverages, and this tea was rated much higher than anything else, with green tea being second. You can either just make a cup of this and drink it every morning, or you can put four of these tea bags in a half-gallon of water and put it in the refrigerator and it’s ready the next morning to drink as hot or iced tea.
Because cocoa powder also has a lot of antioxidants, I also put a teaspoon of this in my hot cup of berry tea every morning, and this has been shown to improve arterial function for hours afterward. This is the best way to get the benefits of dark chocolate, without the milk and sugar in other forms of dark chocolate, which cancel out these benefits.
Dr. Feinsinger of Carbondale, who retired in February from Glenwood Medical Associates after 41 years as a family physician, provides a health tip each Tuesday in the Post Independent. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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