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Choosing the Right Beverage

—by Mary Bodel
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The beverage aisle at the supermarket can be a bewildering place. Fruit juices, sports drinks, enhanced water and energy drinks proliferate. That’s leaving out the sodas, tea, root beer and bottled coffees. Which ones are right for you?

Here are the pros and cons of each choice. Beware; some have all cons and no pro…

Soda Pop: I’m lumping them all in together because for the most part, they have no health benefits, only detractions. Occasionally, they aren’t evil but they should not be your main source of fluids. Whether sugary or sugar free, they should be avoided.

Energy Drinks: I know people who consume these in large amounts on a regular basis. To be honest, they are not all that good for you. In fact, if you have certain medical conditions, they can be dangerous.

Those with heart disease, arrhythmia, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety disorders or bipolar disorder should avoid these drinks altogether. They can interfere with medications and make the conditions worse. Everyone else should use them sparingly, as they can cause anxiety, irritability and make you very jittery.

Coffee: By itself, coffee is ok for most people. Add lots of cream, sugar and chemicals and it’s not so great. If you like the pre-packaged coffee drinks, read the nutrition label to be sure you can afford the calories, fat and other ingredients. Due to the caffeine content, people with the above mentioned medical conditions should avoid coffee.

Tea: There are a lot of health benefits to the various forms of tea on the market. Unfortunately, if you buy it pre-bottled, it is probably sweetened and may have other ingredients. Once again, I recommend reading the nutrition label.

There is less caffeine in tea than there is in coffee, but some is still present. You don’t necessarily have to eliminate tea from your diet, but if you have any medical condition, you should use it sparingly.

Fruit Juices: Fruit juice can be a good, natural way to get needed nutrients and fluids. The best is always going to be natural, not from concentrate juices, which will not be on this aisle. If you choose a fruit drink here, make sure it is all fruit and not some fruit but mostly sugar water. That is a problem with many bottlers.

Sports Drinks: There are times when this type of beverage may be better for you than water. They were created by doctors working with a university football team, in order to give them the energy to finish the game as easily as they started it.

If you are exerting yourself a great deal and/or it is very hot, you may need to replace electrolytes, and this is one of the best ways. If you have high blood pressure, talk to your doctor before using these products, as they may be too high in sodium.

Enhanced Water: These products are an unneeded expense. It may be the chic and trendy beverage, but it’s better to get your vitamins and minerals from your foods, not your water. They shouldn’t hurt your body, but they can take a chunk out of your wallet.

Water: Good old Adam’s Ale. For the most part, this should be the drink of choice. Whether you buy it bottled or get it out of the tap, it is what makes up about 75% of your body, and it’s the best means of hydration.

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