Healthy Beverages: A Necessary Choice for Obesity and Diabetes Prevention

Healthy Beverages
©DDF/DHR

Drinking healthy beverages is necessary for ensuring overall health. The rising consumption around the world of unhealthy beverages, namely sugar and artificially sweetened drinks, is one of the principle culprits and risk factors for the global epidemics of obesity and obesity-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Other drinks, such as 100% fruit juice, milk and alcohol, have both healthy and unhealthy properties, and should be consumed in moderation.

So what is healthy for a human body to drink?

The overwhelmingly obvious option is to consume water. Whether defined as a macronutrient, micronutrient, or just plain “water,” it is the most essential of all consumables (unless one wants to count oxygen!). Potable water has no calories, but often does contain valuable minerals. The most important function of water is not nutritional content, however, as its fundamental role in keeping the body hydrated is essential to all biological functions. So unlike most beverages, drinking water does not add unnecessary calories, and especially sugars, during or in between meals, all-the-while providing a crucial element for staying alive. People who consume water regularly in place of sweetened beverages are much less likely to gain weight and become obese.

Coffee and Tea

Coffee
© DDF

Beyond pure water, coffee (caffeinated and decaffeinated) and various types of teas provide numerous healthful benefits when unsweetened, including reducing risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Both coffee and tea are high in antioxidants and have full micronutrient and phytonutrient profiles that overall support their purported benefits. If adding sweeteners to coffee and tea, it is best to do it in small quantities and use the most unprocessed sources possible, such as honey and raw cane sugar, which are metabolized into the blood more gradually and also provide more micronutrients than refined sugars.

Beverages to Drink in Moderation

Beverages in Moderation
© DDF

Unsweetened 100% fruit juice contains a lot of micronutrients, but are less healthy than the whole fruits they come from, as they are lower in fiber and much higher in sugar (more correctly, in glycemic load). Fruit juice can be considered healthy when consumed in moderation, but should be drunk with caution by diabetics and those at high risk for developing diabetes because they can cause spikes in blood glucose levels.

Other beverages, such as milk and certain alcoholic drinks, should also be consumed in moderation. In the case of milk, beneficial micronutrients such as calcium and vitamins A and D are present in high amounts, but so are saturated fats, which can raise cholesterol and lead to other complications, such as heart disease. Some alcoholic beverages, such as red wine, display many beneficial properties in clinical research, like reducing risk of cardiovascular disease and maintaining mindful balance, due to certain phytonutrients like polyphenols, flavonoids and specifically resveratrol. All alcoholic beverages, however, can raise the risk of several conditions, such as liver disease and neurological damage, if consumed in excess. A glass of wine with a meal likely does no harm, and is potentially quite healthful.

Learn More about Healthy Beverages and Their Role in Diabetes Prevention and Management

Resources and Further Reading

A study showing how sugar sweetened and artificially sweetened beverages increase type 2 diabetes risk: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/97/3/517.long

A study showing how consuming water over sugary drinks prevents weight gain and obesity: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3628978/

For more about some benefits of consuming water, including for diabetics:
https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/news/20110630/drinking-water-may-cut-risk-of-high-blood-sugar#1

Some more about the benefits of coffee and tea consumption:
https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-drinks/other-healthy-beverage-options/

More about drinks to consume in moderation: milk, alcohol and those artificially sweetened:
https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-drinks/drinks-to-consume-in-moderation/

Coffee, Decaffeinated Coffee and Tea linked to reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes: https://www.teaadvisorypanel.com/assets/uploads/files/research/tea_coffee.pdf

A recent study connecting moderate alcohol consumption to mental health:
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180202085241.htm

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