You’re drenched in sweat after an afternoon hike and it’s time for a cold drink.
Will you reach for a diet Coke?
A refreshing lemonade?
Or how about a tall glass of orange juice?
Hopefully, you’ll pass on all three, because they’re all on the “drinks to avoid” list.
Beverages are easy to overlook when you think about eating healthy, but they’re actually a huge part of a healthy diet.
Research shows that sugary drinks can contribute to a long list of health problems, including:
- Heart disease
But the list doesn’t stop there…
Believe it or not, sweet drinks can also wreak havoc on your mental health. (1)
Luckily, there are plenty of healthy summer drinks to quench your thirst without hurting your health.
In this article, we explain why some summer drinks are a health hazard…and why others reduce inflammation and enhance your health.
Let’s get to it!
4 Unhealthy Drinks to Avoid This Summer
The bottom line is, if it’s loaded with sugar, it’s bad for your health.
Sugar is linked to higher rates of diabetes, cancer, and chronic inflammation.
Plus, if you’re trying to shed the pounds, then sugary beverages are your #1 enemy.
A high-sugar diet also weakens the immune system, puts you at risk for nutrient deficiencies, and destroys the gut microbiome.
In fact, if you want to abuse your health, sugary drinks are one of the best ways to do it.
But sugar isn’t the only troublesome ingredient in unhealthy drinks.
Most “sugar-free” replacements also promote cognitive deficits and other severe health issues.
Yep, unfortunately, “diet” sodas are off-limits too.
Here are 5 of the worst drinks for summer:
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but soda is at the top of the drinks to avoid list.
Coke, Sprite, Fanta, you name it…they’re all sugar bombs.
According to Coca-Cola’s website, there’s a whopping 39 grams of sugar in a single 12 oz can of Coke! (2)
You might as well scoop 7 teaspoons of sugar into a glass of water and start chugging (it’s the same thing).
The main problem with all that sweetness is that it causes your blood sugar to spike and plummet.
Over time, this damages the part of your body that processes sugar: the pancreas.
The more sugar you drink, the faster your pancreas ages.
Lemonade isn’t much better than your average soda.
More often than not, companies shovel in the sugar just like they do with soda.
Are you ready for your jaw to drop?
Minute Maid lemonade contains even more sugar than Coke: 40 grams!
And they don’t use raw cane sugar either.
Minute Maid contains only the finest high fructose corn syrup (ugh!).
Although even if they did use cane sugar, it would still make it diabetes-in- can.
3. Sweet Tea
Sweet iced tea is a classic summer refreshment, and it’s right up there with lemonade in terms of sugar content.
Not only that, but it also contains caffeine, which in itself is bad for inflammation.
We’ll talk more about the amazing health benefits of green tea later…
For the time being, all you need to know is that you should avoid sugary iced tea like the plague.
4. Diet Soda
Unfortunately, many doctors still recommend fake sweeteners like aspartame…
And they do this despite the mounting evidence that links sugar alternatives to:
- Brain tumors
- High blood pressure
- Bladder cancer
- Breast cancer
- Weight gain
But worst of all, artificial sweeteners disturb gut bacteria. (3)
As it turns out, gut bacteria is very important for protecting the bloodstream from inflammation.
Additionally, gut bacteria has a huge impact on mental health, especially anxiety, depression, autism, and ADHD.
Although artificial sweeteners are lower on the glycemic index than regular sugar, when you weigh the side effects, it’s best to avoid them altogether.
Beware of Harmful Artificial Sweeteners
Here’s a list of some of the most common artificial sweeteners to avoid:
Not only do these ingredients cause headaches and promote weight gain, but most are also sourced from GMO ingredients.
Instead, use healthy alternative sweeteners like green stevia or raw honey.
8 Unhealthy Drinks in Disguise
Before we get to the healthiest summer drinks, it’s important to point out the many “healthy drinks” are actually loaded with sugar.
As it turns out, fruit juice is one of the worst.
It’ll spike your blood sugar faster than you can say “heart disease.” To make matters worse, many contain harmful additives.
1. Orange Juice
Oh sweet, sweet orange juice.
Just a single sip is enough to light your taste buds on fire.
No wonder it’s the most popular fruit juice in the world.
Shockingly, a 12 oz glass of orange juice contains an incredible 9 teaspoons of sugar! (4)
That’s more than Coke!
Granted it’s natural sugar, but unfortunately the fact that it contains fruit juice doesn’t make a difference.
OJ still has enough sugar to be toxic to your health.
Even just adding a splash of it to your water is too much.
Instead, add a little lemon juice, but more on this later…
2. Carrot Juice
Carrot juice isn’t much better.
Vegetables are probably that last thing that comes to mind when you think of sweet drinks, but carrots are packed with sugar.
Carrots only have about half as much sugar as OJ, but it’s still way too sweet to be considered a healthy drink.
Smoothies get a lot of publicity for being healthy, but in reality, they’re just too sugary.
What do you get when you combine orange juice, banana, pineapple, apple, and whatever else you toss in?
A sugar bomb!
Kombucha is arguably the most deceptive “health drink” on the market.
It contains active bacterial cultures that promote gut health, but at the same time, it has loads of sugar.
In fact, most kombucha brands add at least 20 grams of the sweet stuff per serving.
When it’s all said and done, you’re left with a belly full of sugar.
5. Soy Milk
Soy is inflammatory.
Avoid it in all forms, especially if you have chronic inflammation.
It also typically contains harmful additives just like these other milk alternatives:
6. Almond, Coconut, Hemp, and Other Alternative Milk
Alternative milk tends to have added sugar, but that’s just the beginning of its problems.
While coconut and almond milk can be healthy, you really need to look at the labels to determine if a product contains undesirable ingredients.
For starters, most brands contain vitamin D2, an unhealthy form of vitamin D that can cause hormone imbalances.
The worst ingredient of all though is carrageenan.
Carrageenan has been linked to high blood sugar, gut damage, and glucose intolerance, and pretty much all milk companies use it. (5)
7. Low-Fat Milk
While low-fat milk may seem like a healthy drink, it’s just as inflammatory as all other dairy products.
The truth is that milk is over-hyped and pro-inflammatory.
Milk’s nutritional highlights, like calcium, are easy to beat with anti-inflammatory foods like broccoli.
8. Agave-Sweetened Drinks
Just say “NO” to agave.
It’s easy to find agave nectar in almost every health food store in America, but it’s incredibly high in fructose.
As it turns out, fructose has a lot of nasty side effects like liver damage and weight gain.
Once again, it’s better to use raw honey or green stevia instead.
9 Nutritious Drinks for a Delicious Summer
Not all is lost in the world of summer drinks!
It can be tough saying goodbye to sweet tea, lemonade, and glasses of orange juice.
But there is a bright side.
For one, you can replace sweet tea with green tea and stevia.
Orange juice may be out of the picture, but you still have delicious blueberry and tart cherry juice to try.
Lemonade might be retired, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create your own lemony concoction with lemon and a little raw honey.
As promised, here are 9 nutritious drinks for a delicious summer:
1. Lemon Water
Lemon juice adds a sour, tart flavor and a fresh scent to your water.
When you drink it, it makes your water taste better and your body feel better.
The antioxidants and alkalizing effects of lemon can help skin conditions, strengthen hair, and improve its shine.
Lemons are also known for having a ton of vitamin C and supporting the immune system.
2. Turmeric Tea
Turmeric contains a powerful anti-inflammatory: curcumin.
It has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, and modern research supports that it may help treat:
- Alzheimer’s disease
The key is to take turmeric with black pepper or fenugreek.
On its own, curcumin is difficult to absorb.
But with the help of these other ingredients, your body will absorb it and unleash its healing powers.
3. Blueberry Juice
Blueberries should be on every anti-inflammatory food list.
For one, they add a delicious fruity flavor into the mix.
But blueberries are more than just a tasty treat — they’re also incredibly high in antioxidants.
Not only do they improve glucose sensitivity, but they also reduce blood cholesterol.
To put icing on the cake, blueberries reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Finally, they’re incredible for brain function, support the immune system, and fight infections.
Is there anything that blueberries can’t do?
Not really…they’re also high in vitamin C, iron, manganese, and collagen.
4. Tart Cherry Juice
Tart cherries are also known for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant health benefits.
In fact, drinking tart cherry juice may be one of the best ways to recover from hard exercise.
Not only does it reduce inflammation, but it contains compounds that reduce soreness and speed muscle recovery. (6)
However, nothing is more important for muscle recovery than sleep.
As it turns out, cherries also promote sleep with melatonin.
5. Cranberry Juice
Cranberry juice has a tart taste and contains nutrients that protect against heart disease and cancer.
It’s also great for improving all-around wellness and reducing inflammation.
To top it all off, cranberry juice has antibacterial properties that protect against urinary tract infections.
6. Green Tea
You should try to avoid caffeine as much as you can because it’s bad for inflammation
With that said, if you’re going to drink caffeine, green tea is the way to go.
As a general rule, you can have up to two cups of green tea a day.
But green tea is much more than just a source of caffeine — it also contains powerful antioxidants called polyphenols.
These compounds reduce cellular damage and protect against serious conditions like cancer.
Green tea contains theanine as well: an amino acid that supports GABA in the brain.
GABA is a neurotransmitter that reduces anxiety.
7. Cucumber Juice
Believe or not, cucumbers are actually a fruit, and they have many of the same benefits of blueberries and cherries.
For instance, cucumbers are great for reducing inflammation, especially for people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Cucumbers also hydrate the cells and naturally slow the aging process.
Patients with diabetes will be happy to hear that cucumbers help normalize insulin production.
But what really makes them ideal for summer is that they have a cooling effect that prevents overheating.
8. Celery Juice
Celery juice is another fantastic anti-inflammatory and maybe even more effective at treating rheumatoid arthritis than cucumbers.
As a matter of fact, patients with Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory illnesses should drink celery juice as much as possible.
It also contains high levels of micronutrients that hydrate the cells.
The one downside to celery juice is that it doesn’t have the greatest taste.
However, the good news is that with blueberry, cherry, and lemon juice at your disposal, you can play around with different recipes.
If you have any further questions about healthy summer drinks and drinks to avoid, our providers at Complete Care Health Centers are happy to help.
Feel free to contact us today for more advice about summer nutrition.