Staying hydrated is all important aspect of the sense of well-being in your body and beverages of all varieties help you do just that. There are several beverages other than water which can be useful to relieve thirst and to meet the fluid requirements of the body. Some beverages provide nutrients while others act as stimulants. These include soft drinks, milk, fruit and vegetable based beverages, tea, coffee etc.
Milk, a well-accepted and wholesome beverage for all age groups, is a rich source of nutrients.It contains most of the nutrients necessary for growth and development; making it an important diet element for infants, toddlers, growing children and expectant women and nursing mothers. Milk based beverages like buttermilk, smoothies and shakes are also nutritious beverages which combine the nutritional value of vitamins and minerals from fruits and goodness of milk.
In milk, all the macro- and micro-nutrients are present in an easily digestible and assimilable form.Milk proteins possess high biological value which is almost equal to that of meat, eggs and other high-quality animal proteins. A rich source of bioavailable calcium, milk helps in the building up of strong bones. Milk fat serves as a vehicle for important fat-soluble vitamins A, Dand E. Since milk fat is of the saturated type, those advised a low fat diet can consume skimmed/toned milk. Milk is also rich in riboflavin, but is a poor source of vitamins C, vitamin D and iron. While milk has several benefits, it should be consumed only in pasteurized or boiled form, to ensure protection from disease-causing germs.
Milk contains lactose (a sugar naturally present in milk),people with lactose intolerance need to check for the intake of milk and milk products with their doctor or dietician.
Fruit or vegetable based beverages:
Natural fruit juices provide the body with energy, and some vitamins (beta carotenes, vitamin C) and minerals (potassium, calcium). However, fruit juices cannot be equated with fruits which also provide dietary fibre. Freshly made vegetable juices are nutritious as well and are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants as compared to packaged juices which often contain sugar.
Certain regional natural beverages like kanji made from carrots (rich in vitamins,antioxidants), kokum and aampanna (refreshing coolants) are common summer beverages renowned for their heat-resistant properties.
Tender coconut water is a nutritious beverage with a caloric value of 17.4 per 100 gm. It contains most of the minerals such as potassium, sodium,calcium, magnesium,phosphorus,iron and copper. It is an oral rehydration medium which keeps the body cool. Patients with hyperkalemia such as renal failure, acute adrenal insufficiency and patients with low urine output should avoid it.
Tea and coffee:
The popular tea and coffee are marked by the characteristic stimulating effect, caused by their caffeine content. A cup (150 ml) of brewed coffee contains 80-120 mg of caffeine and instant coffee 50-65 mg, while tea contains 30-65 mg of caffeine.
Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and induces physiological dependence. Generally, low doses (20-200 mg) of caffeine produce mild positive effects like a feeling of well-being, alertness and energy.
Besides caffeine, tea contains theobromine and theophylline. These are known to relax coronary arteries and thereby promote circulation. Tea and coffee also contains flavonoids and other antioxidant polyphenols, which are known to reduce the risk for various diseases such as cancer.
While beneficial in low quantities, higher doses of tea and coffee (>200 mg) can produce negative effects like nervousness and anxiety, especially in people who do not usually consume caffeine-containing beverages. Therefore, moderation in tea and coffee consumption is advised so that caffeine intake does not exceed the tolerable limits.
Tannin is also present in tea and coffee and is known to interfere with iron absorption. Tea and coffee should be avoided at least for one hour before and after meals.
Soft drinks are generally of two categories: natural and artificial or synthetic. Water is the main constituent of all beverages. Orange, lemon, grape, mango, pineapple and apple are generally used in making fruit juice. Cane sugar juice is also extensively used in India, particularly during summer.
Compared to natural fruit juices, synthetic drinks do not contain nutrients unless they are fortified. Generally, synthetic drinks are prepared using preservatives,artificial colours and flavours such as cola, orange, mango and lime, and mostly they are carbonated. Carbonated beverages contain phosphoric acid and may damage the enamel of teeth and affect appetite if taken in excessive amounts. Water used for preparation of beverages should be free from disease-causing agents and harmful chemical impurities.
Drink consciously, stay hydrated:
It is important to drink enough of safe and wholesome water to meet your body’s daily fluid requirements. Consume at least 250 ml of boiled or pasteurized milk per day. Drink natural and fresh fruit juices instead of carbonated beverages. Avoid alcohol. Those who drink alcohol, should limit its intake.