AS the summer persists, all that a parched throat yearns for is a tall glass of a cold drink which will provide instant energy and relief from the heat. Here is a quick review of various available options.
Without a doubt, water is the best choice: It is calorie-free, and it's as easy to find as the nearest tap. One must drink at least eight glasses of water every day. If itís just too plain, try adding a squeeze of lemon or lime or a dash fruit juice or a few crushed mint leaves to it.
Fizzy drinks and colas
These are the drinks that are loaded with sugar and are the worst choice: These provide lots of calories and virtually no other nutrients. Drinking these routinely can lead to weight gain and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Coffee and tea
Coffee and tea are quite healthy if taken in moderation and also if these are not loaded with sugar and milk. It is true that both coffee and tea provide antioxidants. Two cups is the safe upper limit for each. Too much of caffeine may cause restlessness, anxiety and sleeplessness in some individuals.
Fruit juice is high in calories so one should not have more than half a glass per day. Fresh fruit juice is much better than the bottled one but one should opt for whole fruit which has additional fibre in it.
Milk is a most popular drink in North India. Low-fat skim milk is the healthier alternative but one should not have more than one to two glasses. Cool lassi made from curd is better digested as it is rich in probiotics, low in calories and one can have up to two glasses per day.
These have no calories but most of them are full of caffeine. Also artificial sweeteners have long-term side effects. So it is best to avoid them.
Moderate consumption of alcohol lowers the risk of heart disease but the question is ó what is moderate? And will it remain moderate over a long period of time? Alcohol is a poison for pregnant women and people recovering from liver diseases. So if you have to drink it once in a while.
Sports drinks are designed to give athletes carbohydrates, electrolytes, and fluid during high-intensity workouts that last an hour or more. Ordinary people donít require them.
These pricey concoctions have lots of sugars, enough caffeine to raise your blood pressure, and many herbs and additives whose long-term health effects are unknown. So it is best to avoid them.
In a nutshell, water is the healthiest drink available. To make it more flavourful, one can add some seasonal fruit juices and herbs to it. Other drinks need to be taken in moderation.
ó The writer is Dietician, Department of Dietetics, PGIMER, Chandigarh