I know I sometimes sound like a broken record (or a smartphone stuck on replay) with “food as medicine” playing over and over. I don’t feel bad about it either– food is medicine indeed. But I admit that my message might not be complete. What you eat most certainly matters, but what you drink does too. Pour over this article about why you need to pay more attention to the liquids in your life.
Paying attention to what you eat is important, very important. However, it is equally important to be tuned into what you are drinking. For some reason, people don’t tend to evaluate liquids in their diet the same way that they do solids. The truth is, they can have disastrous health impacts such as weight gain, elevated insulin, and cholesterol levels. Getting a handle on the liquids in your life can result in surprisingly positive results with very little effort.
Here are the top reasons why you need to start paying attention to the liquids in your life:
Research shows that substituting water, herbal tea or coffee for drinks loaded with sugar results in weight loss. It is so easy for a load of extra calories to sneak in via that quick stop at your favorite coffee shop, that mid-day soda fix you have had for years or the sports drink you always carry with you to the gym. Even that “healthy” sweetened kombucha that you feel so good about drinking can be loaded with unnecessary calories from sugar. Refrain from any drink that contains any added sugar at all – this is sugar from any sweetener including diet drinks sweetened with anything other than pure stevia. It can be tough at first, training your taste buds to enjoy less sweet liquid but in a few weeks you won’t crave sugary drinks anymore, and you may have even dropped a few pounds.
When you are striving to achieve optimal health, you want to make sure that every calorie counts. This simply means that when we eat and drink, we want our food to be useful for the body. Nutrient density is vital to good health – we need to get the most bang for our buck so to speak. Every time you eat or drink something, it is like fueling up your car with gas. Would you put sugary fruit juice into your car? The same mentality needs to be used for your body – understanding what is good fuel and what is junk is instrumental to excellent health — that morning Frappuccino that you so look forward to starts you off in a nutrient deficient state, adding calories that your body doesn’t recognize and can’t use for fuel. Therefore, these calories do not get expended for energy but instead sit around and take up residence on your belly, hips, and thighs!
The minute you consume a sweetened beverage, the sugar hits the body like a rocket soaring into space. Within twenty minutes of drinking a bottle of Coke, sugar spikes causing an insulin burst. The liver responds by turning the sugar into fat. Within 40 minutes your body has fully absorbed the caffeine in the soda, resulting in dilated pupils and elevated blood pressure while the liver dumps more sugar into the bloodstream. If you are consuming any sugary beverages on a regular basis, insulin becomes less effective, and the body must make more and more of it to be effective – this is what is known as insulin resistance. Being insulin resistant generally results in weight gain around the midsection and is associated with an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and infertility.
Liquid Calories Can’t Fill You Up
Three things help keep us full, fiber, healthy fats, and proteins. These are the building blocks to good health. Beverages sweetened with sugar don’t keep us full. Fiber, found in vegetables, whole fruits, whole grains, beans, and nuts and seeds should be consumed on a daily basis. However, many Americans are fiber deficient and replace healthy foods with sugary drinks that have zero nutritional value. If you are on a mostly “liquid” diet, you will always find yourself reaching for something to curb your hunger, and this can be disastrous when you make the wrong choices.
Ending the Vicious Cycle
One of the best ways to come to terms with the liquids in your life is to start keeping track of what you drink. Just like you would keep a food diary – keep a liquid diary. Write down everything you drink – the calories and the amount of sugar in each drink. Seeing what we drink written down on paper helps bring mindfulness to the matter. You will be surprised to see just how quickly the calories and sugar add up.
Begin by replacing one sugary drink a day with a healthier option and keep going until you are not drinking sugary beverages at all. Choose herbal teas, a glass of water with lemon or seltzer water. Learn to make your own sugar-free drinks using only all-natural sweeteners such as stevia, organic raw honey or monk fruit. Before long, you won’t crave the sugary drinks you once loved and hop on the scale…You may have even dropped a few stubborn pounds!
-The UpWellness Team