The benefits of beverages in everyday consumption

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Healthy and unhealthy drinks in a diet

By Cazzy Lewchuk, Staff Writer

Whether on the daily grind for school, work, errands, or any other long activity, we all take drinks with us for fuel. Depending on the routine and time of day, these drinks come in so many forms—hot, cold, carbonated, caffeinated, sweet, sugary, chock-full-of-chemicals, or “natural.” Different drinks have different health benefits and uses, and we examine the low-down of each one’s effects here.

Water: the simplest and ultimately healthiest beverage. Before drinking anything else, a glass of water can often be the best source of energy. Water hydrates the body, replenishing fluid loss. This helps to regulate digestion, circulation, nutrient transportation, and the body’s temperature. Water also helps to maintain conditions of the skin, muscles, and vital organs like the kidneys. Whether it’s for working out, starting work, or staying alert in class, it’s the ultimate replenishment.

100 per cent juice: Pure fruit or vegetable juices (be sure to avoid ones with high amounts of sugar or preservatives) are excellent sources of nutrients and vitamins. Fruit juices are filling, flavourful, and can even serve as a substitution for a meal in a proper smoothie (although this should be avoided, unless it’s an emergency.)

Gatorade/sports drinks: Most often used for athletic/exercise activities, but also a fuel source for anyone needing some energy. The primary benefit of drinks such as Gatorade is that they’re chock full of electrolytes, which are chemicals that regulate pH levels in the blood, restoring prime blood flow for bodily functions. They also contain carbohydrates, natural sugars needed for body nutrition replenishment. But be warned, sports drinks are not a source of adequate hydration and can harm the body through added sugars (such as high fructose corn syrup) and citric acid (which deteriorates teeth.) They are best suited for occasional usage after exercise.

Wine/beer: Most commonly used for relaxation after stress, occasional and limited consumption of wine and beer can actually help the body. Red wine contains procyanidins, compounds that reduce the risk of heart disease. Beer has been linked to aid digestion and even lower cholesterol through increased fiber amounts. However, this aid comes in the form of one or two servings very occasionally, more than one or two drinks at a time is never good for the body, and has many negative health associations.

Coffee: Another extremely commonly used beverage, moderated usage of coffee can help the body in the long term. Containing antioxidants—nutrients that strengthen tissue—coffee can be linked to reduced risk of diabetes and heart disease. However, the caffeine in coffee does not aid the body, and can do much more harm than good, causing irregular blood pressure and addiction.

Besides pure juice and water, most beverages are not adequate sources of hydration. Although occasional usage of flavourful drinks may aid the body in some ways, water is always the best choice for replenishing energy or generally keeping the body healthy.