Healthy hydration – what should we drink?

Nothing can beat a glass of pure and fresh spring water for appeasing our thirst. It’s the best beverage to hydrate our cells while providing a range of essential minerals and oligo-elements. But did you know these qualities can be further improved by pouring hot or boiling water over tea leaves or other herbal plants? 

A range of powerful bioactive compounds can be released and absorbed when we consume herbal teas. Depending on the season, you can enjoy different types of tea and herbal infusions. 

During the hot summer months, peppermint tea is great because of its refreshing properties; while during the cold winter periods, a thyme infusion with some ginger or cloves is better. Green tea, on the other hand, alternated with infusions of sage or rosemary, is a staple all year long. 

Several studies suggest that coffee, in moderation, can also be healthy. Epidemiological studies suggest two to three cups of ground, instant and decaffeinated coffee can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

Sugar-sweetened beverages, especially those made with high fructose corn syrup, should be avoided because they cause weight gain, hyperlipidaemia, insulin resistance and can lead to fatty liver. Data from a large epidemiological study suggest that every can of soft drink consumed by children translates into a 60 per cent increase in their risk of becoming obese. 

Is it okay to drink ‘diet’ soda?

Unfortunately, the answer seems to be no. ‘Diet’ soft drinks are essentially a mixture of carbonated water, artificial or natural sweeteners, colours, flavours and other food additives. High-intensity sweeteners commonly used are aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, acesulfame potassium (Ace-K) or Stevia. These chemical compounds are 200–13,000 times sweeter than regular sugar. 

Even though these drinks contain no calories, sugar, fat or protein, a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that drinking ‘diet’ soft drinks may also be associated with an increased risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome. 

A study published in Cell Metabolism has demonstrated that sustained sucralose intake stimulated hunger, and as a consequence increased food consumption leading to obesity. It seems that certain areas of the brain detect a discrepancy between the dietary sweetness and energy intake, stimulating a fasting-like state and a sensory and behavioural response that forces people to increase calorie consumption. 

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