With the flood of health food available to us, it’s no wonder many of us are utterly confounded and unsure what is actually healthy, versus what is just a fad. On top of that, we’re slammed with information about what carb is a horrible carb for our body, or what food will apparently eventually give us cancer. Scare tactics are everywhere, as well as in our face promotions about the latest health food.
One of these areas of mass confusion is what we drink. Many of us take in a daily cup of joe, while others claim that coffee is terrible for us. Some people believe in the healing powers of a cup of tea, and lately, kombucha drinkers are disputing all of the above and claiming their drink is the ultimate drink. Let’s break it down a bit and figure out what the pros and cons of these popular drinks are, and what will work best for you.
For those of us who go nuts over coffee beans, the smell of a freshly brewed cuppa in the morning is our absolute favourite. Unfortunately, it might also be the smell of necessity, considering how many of us are practically addicted to coffee! So is this addiction a good thing or a bad thing?
- Caffeine and performance: some studies have shown that a bolt of energy in caffeine form can help your fitness performance dramatically. In fact, there’s a whole industry for caffeine boosts before a workout.
- Nutrients: Coffee beans have some vitamins and minerals in it, making it worthwhile if you’re drinking a couple of cups a day.
- Added ingredients: Many people take their cup of coffee with all kinds of extras in it, like cream, sugar or pumps of sugary flavouring like caramel and vanilla. These added sugar boosts basically ruin any of the health benefits you may have gotten.
- Increase in blood pressure: A cup of joe will increase your blood pressure, but the jury is out on if this is dangerous. What is known for sure is that if you already have high blood pressure and drink quite a bit of coffee, you need to consult your doctor to determine if there is a link.
The bottom line:
Coffee, in moderation, is a good thing for most people. Yes, we’re aware this is an extremely vague sentence! The truth is that moderation is the key for almost everything, and so if you’re drinking two to three cups a day without all the added sugar, you’re probably just fine. In fact, you might even be gaining some extra vitamins and minerals that you wouldn’t normally get without that cup. As most of us know, however, drinking caffeine later in the day, or having more than a couple of cups of coffee a day can seriously impact things like our sleep, blood pressure, and anxiety levels, so it’s best to keep it limited and early in the day.
- Can contain antioxidants: Many teas contain helpful antioxidants which may help to stave off some cancers, or help with keeping your arteries clear. Some teas include ingredients like fresh roses and ginger, which have their own benefits as well.
- Help digestive system: Ah, the peppermint tea. A favourite for many in the evening, a cup of peppermint tea can also help you digest that overindulgent dinner and potentially give you better sleep.
- Caffeine: Black tea contains quite a bit of caffeine, so you do need to be careful about drinking heaps of it throughout the day. Many people drink up to 6-7 cups of tea through a workday, and don’t realise the amount of caffeine they’re ingesting. It’s important to treat black tea, specifically, like a cup of coffee and to reduce your intake later in the day.
The bottom line:
Truth be told, tea is a pretty great drink with very low risks. If you’re an herbal tea drinker, you can enjoy all the health benefits without the caffeine and your only risk will be having to use the bathroom multiple times a day! As far as actual health benefits go, we wouldn’t recommend drinking tea in lieu of other health activities like a good diet and exercise. Some limited studies have shown a link between lowered cholesterol and tea drinking, but as far as weight loss and cancer prevention, there hasn’t yet been a strong study proving it one way or the other, so should not be relied upon.
Kombucha is essentially fermented tea, and has seen a dramatic rise in popularity over the last decade. We’re starting to see kombucha in stores all over the world, and being served in places like event venue hires for weddings and parties. The origins are extremely cloudy, (just like the drink!), and some sources claim it is over 2,000 years old, while others say it originated only about 200 years ago.
- Basically everything: Supporters of kombucha claim benefits include curing asthma, helping with diarrhea, and reducing blood pressure.
- Probiotics: Fermented food and drink like kombucha produce probiotics, shown to help with the digestive system. Studies have not been able to see if kombucha has enough probiotics to help aid with improving the gut at this point, however.
- Stomachaches: Some small studies have shown that a percentage of drinkers might develop a stomach ache from drinking too much kombucha. Because it’s a fermented and carbonated drink, it can irritate some and cause some bloating.
- Sugar: Kombucha is made by adding sugar to the beverage in the beginning, and many drinks also add sugary substances at the end, like fruit or flavour additives. This can make the drink contain quite a bit of calories and sugar.
The bottom line:
Kombucha is definitely a fad, but one that many people have latched on to. If you find a positive link to adding kombucha to your routine, like a happier stomach or a lower blood pressure, chances are it may be doing you some good.
With any of these drinks, remember to always read your labels, and to pay attention to extra sugar and calories before drinking. Cut down in the afternoon, and always consult a doctor if you’re feeling any odd side effects or are unsure if any of these drinks are right for you.