Just cruise through your local supermarket and you’re bound to be bombarded with a ton of “healthy” drink options with eye-catching labels and enticing claims like More antioxidants! More vitamins! More electrolytes! The list goes on and on. But underneath the label can be a very different story; not every drink is as good for you as you think.
Every day, studies are confirming that some of these drinks may be downright terrible for your health because they contain things like artificial colors, artificial flavorings, and sweeteners (like aspartame). Furthermore, in some of these drinks, the mass production simply strips away the nutrients you think you’re getting. Think that fruit juice is the real deal? Not so much when it’s pasteurized, loaded with high fructose corn syrup, and stripped of its fibers. Plus, manufacturers are smart and labels can be deceiving, so it makes it even harder to detect the good from the bad.
This is why I constantly tell people to primarily rely on good ‘ole H20 for proper hydration. You don’t have to worry about all that unhealthy, artificial junk, when you go as natural as possible. And you can’t get more natural than water! That said, take a moment to check out this list of other surprisingly unhealthy drinks. You may be shocked to find that your regular “healthy” drink of choice is not really that good for you.
Many folks view soy milk as a good alternative to dairy milk because it’s lactose free, it’s protein-rich, it’s cholesterol-free, and because it has heart-healthy omega-3s. But that doesn’t mean soy milk is all good news. First off, you’ve got all those popular flavored soy milks that are loaded with calories and fattening sugars. Then there’s a bigger potential problem with soy milk: GMO’s (genetically modified organisms). Within the US, most of the soy milk you see in the grocery store is non-organic and primarily from GMO crops. And unbeknownst to many, the long term effects of GMO foods on the body are yet to be determined. In addition, not too long ago soy got a lot of attention because of the possible link to breast cancer through natural plant chemicals called isoflavones. Since isoflavones bind to estrogen receptors, they can have similar effects to estrogen, thus potentially leading to or worsening breast cancer.
I can totally understand why the world’s gone nuts for coconut water. But the boxed/canned coconut water in your supermarket is often vastly different from fresh coconut water. For one thing, compared to fresh coconut water, packaged coconut water can have up to twice the amount of sugar, and is also lacking in fiber. Also, what makes fresh coconut water so healthy is that it’s loaded with potassium, an electrolyte that’s key for rehydration. But interestingly enough, a study from ConsumerLab.com found that two very popular commercial coconut waters, O.N.E. Coconut Water and Vita Coco, didn’t deliver the amount of electrolytes promised on the label. And considering that those brands of coconut water aren’t cheap, I’d say it’s a bit of a rip off if you’re not getting what you pay for.
Low/No Calorie Drinks
The biggest selling-point behind Crystal Light and other beverage additives is that they encourage hydration by making water taste like, well, not water. But the ingredients in those beverage additives may make you take pause. Not only are they filled with artificial flavors and sweeteners, they contain many ingredients that make health experts like myself cringe. Aspartame (side effects include headaches, anxiety, heart palpitations), acesulfame potassium (which contains a known carcinogen), phenylalanine (a protein that’s generally safe, but toxic in high doses and not recommended for pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers). And then we have those scary colorings – like Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1, and Red 40 – that have been said to cause cancer and tumor growth and are on the no-no list of the interest group Center for Science in the Public Interest. So yeah, once again it may be a better bet to just skip the flavor packets and add a bit a lemon, a squeeze of fresh orange, or a cucumber slice to your H20.
Many of us rejoiced when we were introduced to a “healthier” alternative to soda. But turns out, we were duped. The most recent (and disturbing) news? In a recent study that followed 2,500 New Yorkers for 10 years, those who drank diet soda every day were more likely to have a stroke, a heart attack, or even die from a cardiovascular disease. That’s serious stuff. And when those results were adjusted for smoking, weight, exercise, and other dietary factors, the stats were still the same – diet soda can wreak havoc on more than just your waistline. Another study published in Diabetes Care journal found that diet soda drinkers were more likely to develop metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Kinda makes plain ‘ole water look pretty awesome.
Dr. Phoenyx Austin is a physician, author, certified personal trainer, and creator of the fitness site, DrPhoenyx.com. Check out Dr. Phoenyx’s natural hair care book If You Love It, It Will Grow – available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks. And don’t forget to say hello to the Doc on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!