How to “Drink and Thrive”

Dr. Tague-How to "Drink and Thrive"

Drinking… we do it all the time. But are you getting the maximum health benefits from every sip? Choosing proper beverages makes a huge impact on weight and health over time. Wrong choices are devastating to weight control and health. Right choices are life giving.

There is no doubt about it. If Americans started making wise decisions with beverages, health would immediately transform in the U.S. You see, there really is no other option. You must choose your beverages wisely to experience optimum weight and health. And, it does not have to be difficult. Let your health thrive as you embrace 3 simple principles regarding your beverages. Let me explain…

Principle #1: Don’t Drink Sugar…. Ever!

Every beverage is mostly water. Whether it is a soda, coffee, tea, juice, or ice water, most of what you are drinking is actually H2O, water. But, what accompanies the water molecules makes a huge difference.

Research indicates that beverages account for 356 calories per day for the average American. If these calories were highly nutritious, that may not be a problem. But they are not. The vast majority of these 356 calories are plain sugar, usually in the form of high fructose corn syrup. Sodas, flavored coffees, and juices are often to blame.

Adding high amounts of liquid sugar to the American diet has been devastating to our health and waistlines. Liquid sugars increase the risks of:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Fatty liver
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Dementia and memory loss
  • Obesity

Further, sugary drinks actually slow the metabolism by decreasing body heat production (thermogenesis) compared to plain water. Although soda is the classic example, sugary fruit drinks and even fruit juice contribute to the problem.

7% of U.S. calories are from sodas, more calories than any other single food item! The food industry is loving it! You see, high fructose corn syrup is extremely cheap to buy and it is highly sweet and addictive. The food industry knows that if they can get you started drinking it, they can get you hooked. Then, sales skyrocket!

Just remember this: Sugary drink addictions are common and dramatically increase the risk of an early death.

One of the issues with sugary drinks is that they do not make you feel full. After drinking them, one is just as likely to eat a large meal, so weight gain is inevitable. So why not simply drink water or tea?

Beverages that contain protein, such as a meal replacement shake, are very different. Protein is health-promoting, a required nutrient, and makes you feel full. So, the calories you drink from something like a protein shake actually help you eat less food, contributing to weight loss rather than weight gain!

Simply eliminating 1 serving per day of a sugar-sweetened drink will cause a pound of weight loss in 6 months.

Remember: Choose sugar free beverages…. always!

Note Regarding Artificial Sweeteners: Research is clear that sugar is extremely deadly. However, unless you have an allergy, there is not much, if any, real evidence of harm from artificial sweeteners. I am convinced that sugar kills and is far more harmful than artificial sweeteners, especially sucralose, which is made from the sugar molecule, but has no calories.

Principle #2: Don’t Drink Phosphoric Acid!

We absolutely, scientifically know that drinking phosphoric acid is not a good idea (no big surprise, right???). But doctor, you say, “I would never do that.” Well, if not, you are the exception. You see, dark colored soda beverages get their tangy sensation from phospohoric acid. Just read the label on your favorite cola or pepper type soda can.

Let’s talk about blood chemistry for a moment. Humans thrive and our cells function properly only when our blood is slightly alkaline, the opposite of acidic (ideal body pH is 7.4). Colas have a pH of around 2.5, meaning they are very acidic. As a result, they lower our blood pH every time we drink them.

When we drink colas, it lowers our blood pH. This forces our body to respond. To neutralize the acid, our bodies release alkaline mineral compounds from our bones to keep our pH at 7.4. Our bones literally dissolve in the process.

In fact, those who drink cola daily (regular or diet) have a 5% lower bone mineral density, increasing the risk of osteoporosis and unnecessary bone fractures!

Further, as our bones dissolve with each sip of cola, calcium and magnesium are released from the bones into the blood. From the blood, calcium and magnesium enter the kidneys where they flow out of the body with our urine. It is very difficult to rebuild bone strength once it is lost. So, this daily dissolving of bone by millions of Americans (from colas) is creating future job security for orthopedic surgeons, but devastating to our future bone health.

Colas force our body to lose calcium and magnesium in our urine, creating a nutrient deficiency, which can lead to fatigue, weight gain, and osteoporosis. If you must drink a diet soda, choose a citrus version instead.

Remember: Avoid colas always!

Principle #3: Drink it COLD, whenever you can!

When we drink something cold, the body immediately has to work to warm it up. Otherwise, the body temperature would drop every time a cold food or beverage hit the stomach. Heating of a liquid from 32 degrees (ice water) to 98.6 degrees requires energy. And energy production means calorie burning, just what we are after!

In fact, drinking a glass of ice water will “force” the body to burn 9 extra calories to warm the water to 98.6 degrees. That may not sound like much, but it’s pretty phenomenal when compared to a cup of soda that adds 100 calories to the waistline. So, every time you drink ice water, you actually burn calories, and the calorie burning adds up over time.

We need all the help we can get when losing weight. Every extra glass of ice cold water you drink as a part of your daily routine will potentially burn off an extra pound of body weight over a year.

Eating ice is even better. Every 8 oz cup of crushed ice will actually “burn” off 30 calories as your body works to first melt the ice and then heat the water to body temperature. Eating a cup of crushed ice could theoretically help you lose an extra 3 lbs of weight each year.

Ice water, iced tea, iced coffee, diet citrus sodas, and other calorie-free beverages are all great options. Learn to enjoy the cool, refreshment of your favorite health-promoting beverages and enjoy ice chips as an energizing, crunchy snack.

Remember: Choose cold beverages…. really cold!

As you choose your health-promoting beverages, avoid sugars and damaging acids, while embracing cold, refreshing, healthy drinks. What you drink has a major impact on your health over time. Be thoughtful…

And remember, Optimum Health is ALWAYS worth the effort!

For Optimum Health,

Rick Tague, M.D., M.P.H.

Rick Tague, M.D., M.P.H. & T.M. is a nutrition & weight loss specialist and the Founder & Medical Director of the Center for Nutrition and Preventive Medicine, P.A.

Dr. Tague is an Alpha Omega Alpha honors graduate of Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans. He also holds a Masters Degree in Public Health from Tulane. Dr. Tague is board certified by the American Board of Obesity Medicine and the American Board of Family Medicine. His medical practice has focused on optimum health, nutrition, and weight loss since 1996.