It’s estimated that we drink one-third of our daily calorie intake. When you see a 64-ounce soda or a coffee drink filled with whipped cream, it’s not a stretch to see how it can add up. But more than the calories, many of our beverage choices pose concerns about fat, sugar, and other undesirable ingredients.

We already talked about soda and it’s concerns, which go way beyond just sugar. In this article, we are going to look at how you can make some healthy drink choices, at home or on the go.


The most common beverage I am asked about without question is coffee. There is much conflicting information about coffee and part of the reason stems from the fact that we consume so much of it. Most things in moderation are typically ok; it’s when we are drinking pots instead of cups that concerns arise. In the case of coffee, a cup or two a day is more than ok.

Numerous studies have shown that coffee contains many health benefits including lowering your blood glucose levels, potentially increasing your metabolic activity, and lowering your risk for numerous conditions including dementia, stroke, cancers of the liver kidney and prostate, Parkinson’s disease and type 2 diabetes.

Coffee contains polyphenol antioxidants, bioflavanoids, vitamins and minerals that somehow together neutralize the potential harm of caffeine. That, however, does not mean there is no caffeine impact. While studies are not conclusive on how much is too much, most agree that a cup or two a day will do no harm and could do great good. But if you are addicted to coffee, can’t function without it, require several cups just to keep going, then it’s time to look at weaning yourself away from it and enjoying it purely for the flavor and not for the stimulation.

If you want to lower your caffeine consumption without reducing your cups per day, one way to do that without going cold turkey on coffee is to start mixing some decaf into your coffee and week after week, increase the ratio until you finally get down to a caffeine-free cup.

And of course, saying coffee has health benefits presumes that you’re not adding tons of sugar to it or adding hormone-laden milk to it. Choose pesticide-free beans, organically grown when possible, and keep in mind that much like chocolate, the darker the better: dark roast beans have more health benefits and less caffeine than lighter roast beans. So watch the add-ins, but otherwise, enjoy your coffee!


Ancient cultures from Africa to South America to Asia all have traditions steeped in their local tea brews. Tea has less caffeine than coffee, but still contains antioxidants and polyphenols that have numerous health benefits. Tea may well be the best thing you are not drinking… or not drinking enough of. In fact there is so much to tell you about tea that I’ve decided to put it all into another newsletter.

For now, try exploring the world of tea. Hot, it makes a soothing pick me up, and cold, a refreshing one. Tea bags are easy to keep in a desk drawer and if your office doesn’t have a kitchen, you can get cordless kettles now that heat up your water in minutes so you can enjoy at your desk. (Or you can make some in the morning and put it in a Thermos, let it cool and pour it over ice for iced tea at your desk anytime.) As with coffee, try not to add sugar. If you must add sweetener, consider Stevia or a little raw honey and over time, try to add less and less until you no longer need it.


We all now we need to drink more water, but the challenge today is finding good clean water without chemicals such as fluoride. Despite the fact that ingesting fluoride comes with a warning to call poison control, for some inexplicable reason, many water supplies still contain it. If you have a good filtration system or are on a well that’s tested clean, the more water you can work into your day, the better. I know it’s not sexy, but a squeeze of lime or lemon can brighten it up.

If you haven’t invested in a water filter yet and are wondering whether tap is better than bottled, there are a number of considerations that make this a tough one to call. We are going to delve into the tradeoffs in depth in an upcoming newsletter and answer that question. For now, the easy answer is to consider a good water filtration system.

Before we leave water, I do want to mention seltzer. Seltzer has the same concerns of plastic bottling (which leaches chemicals especially when it’s exposed to heat) that bottled water raises, so it is not without health considerations. However, for those looking to drink more water and just need some sizzle to make it sexier, or for those trying to ease off their soda consumption, seltzer can be a good interim bridge.

If you received one of those soda makers as a gift, use it to make your own seltzer instead. As with most things, moderation is key: enjoying an occasional glass or two to boost your hydration and avoid soda is ok; drinking several liters a day may not be the best choice due to the excess carbonation.

Coconut Water

Another form of water that I can wholeheartedly endorse is coconut water. I discussed its benefits back in the newsletter about the power of coconut; coconut water is a great healthy drink option. It contains vitamins (especially the B vitamins), minerals and trace elements such as zinc, manganese, and selenium.

Coconut water is rich in electrolytes, making it a great natural and healthy alternative to the sugary sports drinks full of dyes and additives. Coconut water also contains amino acids, antioxidants, phytonutrients and cytokinins, which have been shown to be anti-again and cancer preventing.

Coconut water has been shown not just to rehydrate you but also to improve exercise performance. It is a heart protector as it helps regulate blood pressure, reduce plaque formation, and prevent abnormal blood clotting. It has also been shown to help prevent osteoporosis, cancer, reduce inflammation, and balance blood glucose and insulin levels. All this from a yummy drink that is low in calories and sugar, and also has an alkalizing effect on the body, helping to mitigate the highly acidic diets we tend to eat today. While it tastes sweet, it has about one-fifth of the sugar of typical fruit juices kids consume such as apple or grape and it has some fiber to moderate sugar absorption.

We love coconut water in my house, for all the wonderful health benefits as well as the taste. We use Zico brand as it was the only leading brand tested that contained the amount of nutrients it claimed to.


Most everyone knows by now that typical bottles or cartons of juice contain a lot of sugar without the fiber of the whole fruit. Because of that, juice should be avoided or consumed only in moderation. If you must have juice as part of your breakfast or daily routine, invest in the old-fashioned juice glasses our parents and grandparents used that will limit your serving size to six ounces or less.

Never drink juice without eating some protein and fiber along with it to moderate the sugar spiking. Choose berries and vegetables for your juice base when possible and read the label to be sure you are getting 100% pomegranate or blueberry juices, for example, and not a small amount mixed in with cheaper and sweeter apple or grape juice.

If you do consume apple or grape juice, keep in mind that they are made from the same fruits that were rated as the most heavily pesticide ridden by the Environmental Working Group. So if that is your juice of choice, look for organic: especially important if you are feeding it to children.

If you make your own juice, choose a juicer such as a Vitamix that includes the whole fruit and doesn’t extract the pulp, leaving the fiber in the trashcan. And if you choose to mix it in a smoothie, pay close attention to the other ingredients as well as the amount of fruit. Many smoothies begin with a base of a fruit juice high in sugar to which sweetened yogurt and extra fruit is added: all resulting in a big sugar rush.

Fruit is high in sugar, and while it contains wonderful other nutrients that make it well-worth including in our diets, drinking the equivalent of multiple pieces of fruit is still consuming a lot of sugar all at once. Be sure to include protein and fiber to mitigate the impact of the sugar: consider adding vegetables, especially dark green leafy ones to your smoothie, along with unsweetened Greek yogurt or raw milk protein powder.

My son cannot live without orange juice in the morning. So to make it a healthier option, we add a raw milk protein powder called Whey Cool along with a scoop of Boku, a Superfood powder made from organic whole food and lots of greens. He gets his juice, but it’s delivered in a nutritionally dense powerhouse of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, so I can feel good about it.


This one may take some getting used to, but kefir is a drink that delivers all the benefits of yogurt, and more. Like yogurt, kefir is made by fermenting milk with bacteria, resulting in probiotics that support a healthy digestive tract. But kefir is fermented with different types of bacteria, and more of them, resulting in even greater health benefits than yogurt.

Kefir has been shown to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as restore balance to your digestive system, relieve intestinal disorders, and it even claims to reduce food cravings and ADHD. (Eating a healthy balanced diet would do so, so seeing that result after adding nutrient rich kefir would make sense.)

Kefir supplies complete protein, B vitamins and essential minerals. Many people who are lactose intolerant can even digest it. Kefir is a nutritional powerhouse but it does have a sour taste. Some people love the taste and have no trouble digesting it. Others need to build their tolerance for both more gradually. In that case, start with 4 ounces on an empty stomach in the morning and build up slowly adding a little more over time.

If you are a smoothie drinker, try adding it to your smoothie where the sweetness of the fruit will counteract the bitterness but you’ll still get vitamins, minerals and probiotic effects beyond what you can get from yogurt. I confess I struggle with the taste but it is slowly growing on me. Even though my kids are both from the area of the world where kefir is a daily household beverage, it’s still growing on them too. But I look for ways to use it in other things when possible and sneak it in.

You can buy kefir in most grocery and natural food stores, or it’s actually easy to make your own if you prefer. If you’ve never tried it, you should at least give it a try. If you can tolerate a little, keep adding a bit more every day. If not, use it in a smoothie or a dip or something else you could use drinkable yogurt in. But it’s definitely worth checking out for all its health benefits.

To your wellness and health: your true wealth!


Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal at

Photo Source: Microsoft Clip Art


Greetings from India! I spent some time around Delhi, saw the Taj Mahal, and am now on my way to Rishikesh, a beautiful town in the Himalayas along the banks of the Ganges, for the International Yoga Festival. This newsletter will be short and will include a few tips until I can write more. If I have internet access, I’ll post on the New England Health Advisory Facebook page while I’m there!

This first tip is one that has come up a few times over the past weeks. A woman at one of the gyms I teach at mentioned it (thanks new subscriber Barb!), and then it came up again when I had lunch with two subscribers (shout out to Steve and Audrey!). So while I know many of you may know this, the fact that it keeps coming up tells me that I need to share it you because many of you may not know.

Did you know that one of the worst things you can do in a restaurant is to have a drink with a lemon or lime in it?

In addition to being heavily sprayed to prevent spoiling, the way they are stored (I’ll spare you the details!) and the number of people who handle them without washing hands from storage to service, make them full of germs. When you drop them in your drink, all the germs and chemicals are released into the liquid. So while I love lemon or lime in my tea or drink, ask for it on the side and squeeze it in yourself instead of letting it float in your drink!

Did you know that Pepsi is launching a brand new soda-for-breakfast beverage disguised as juice? Basically, it’s Mountain Dew with caffeine but it has 5% juice, just enough for Pepsi to be able to label it as a juice. In case soda for lunch and dinner isn’t enough, now you can begin your day with what Pepsi is calling “the ultimate ‘pick me up’ that satisfies all day long.” And because it’s considered juice, it’s eligible for inclusion in school cafeterias!

Did you know that one of the most important minerals you may not be getting enough of is magnesium? We hear all about calcium, but calcium and magnesium are ideally ingested in a 1:1 ratio, in other words, in equal proportion. But we get added calcium in milk, cheese, juice and many other products. Most of us cannot offset that with an equal amount of dark green leafy vegetables and other good sources of magnesium like nuts, legumes, and whole grains.

I’m going to write more about magnesium soon, but its responsible for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body including heart health, bone strength and blood sugar regulation. And that’s just three of its jobs!

While I think most everyone can benefit, if you are older, diabetic, have heart concerns, drink a lot of alcohol, have hormonal imbalance, or trouble sleeping, you especially may benefit form magnesium supplementation. I get some in my whole food multivitamin, but I take extra every day. And if I have trouble falling asleep or sleeping through the night, I take an extra 2 before bed. One study estimated that almost all of us are magnesium deficient so if you eat lots of calcium or supplement with calcium, be sure to balance it out with some magnesium as well.

Did you know that a new petition has been filed with the FDA to allow milk producers to add aspartame (yes, that’s right! The same artificial sweetener we read about recently that is responsible for 75% of all food additive complaints to the FDA that has been linked to numerous detrimental health conditions) to milk products WITHOUT having to list it on the label. That means it can be in milk, yogurt, cottage cheese and other dairy products that you – and your children – consume WITHOUT YOUR KNOWLEDGE.

I’ve included a small part of the petition below so you can read for yourself their argument that doing so will promote milk consumption in children and reduce childhood obesity by replacing the high fructose corn syrup with aspartame. (Interesting that without admitting it, they are saying that it’s not the flavored milk that’s the problem, it’s the current sweetener, high fructose corn syrup.) Despite the fact that aspartame has been proven to increase weight gain along with all the other health concerns it poses, they want permission to use it freely in dairy products without your knowledge. What is most concerning is the targetting of innocent children with this toxic chemical through school lunch programs.

Even though it has not been approved yet, this yet another reason to avoid ANY product that says low calorie, fat-free, reduced fat, or low sugar. What you lose in a few calories is made up with chemical concerns far worse than the sugar (and even more likely to cause weight gain, the very reason most people are choosing it to begin with!)

Read more about the petition below:

Specifically, the petition requests that FDA amend § 131.110(c)(2) to allow the use of “any safe and suitable” sweetener in optional characterizing flavoring ingredients used in milk. [1] The petition also requests that FDA similarly amend the standards of identity for 17 other milk and cream products. Those standards (hereinafter referred to as the “additional dairy standards”) are as follows: Acidified milk (§ 131.111), cultured milk (§ 131.112), sweetened condensed milk (§ 131.120), nonfat dry milk (§ 131.125), nonfat dry milk fortified with vitamins A and D (§ 131.127), evaporated milk (§ 131.130), dry cream (§ 131.149), heavy cream (§ 131.150), light cream (§ 131.155), light whipping cream (§ 131.157), sour cream (§ 131.160), acidified sour cream (§ 131.162), eggnog (§ 131.170), half-and-half (§ 131.180), yogurt (§ 131.200), lowfat yogurt (§ 131.203), and nonfat yogurt (§ 131.206). The petition asks that the standards of identity for these products be amended to provide for the use of any safe and suitable sweetener in the optional ingredients. [2]

IDFA and NMPF request their proposed amendments to the milk standard of identity to allow optional characterizing flavoring ingredients used in milk (e.g., chocolate flavoring added to milk) to be sweetened with any safe and suitable sweetener– including non-nutritive sweeteners such as aspartame. IDFA and NMPF state that the proposed amendments would promote more healthful eating practices and reduce childhood obesity by providing for lower-calorie flavored milk products. They state that lower-calorie flavored milk would particularly benefit school children who, according to IDFA and NMPF, are more inclined to drink flavored milk than unflavored milk at school. As further support for the petition, IDFA and NMPF state that the proposed amendments would assist in meeting several initiatives aimed at improving the nutrition and health profile of food served in the nation’s schools. Those initiatives include state- level programs designed to limit the quantity of sugar served to children during the school day. Finally, IDFA and NMPF argue that the proposed amendments to the milk standard of identity would promote honesty and fair dealing in the marketplace and are therefore appropriate under section 401 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 341).

The petition acknowledges that the use of non-nutritive sweeteners in optional characterizing flavoring ingredients in milk is allowed under the existing regulatory scheme, with certain additional requirements. The regulatory framework governing the naming of standardized foods that do not fully comply with the relevant standards of identity changed with the passage of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 and FDA’s rulemaking establishing the Agency’s requirements for foods named by use of a nutrient content claim and a standardized term (§ 130.10 (21 CFR 130.10)). Section 130.10(d) allows the addition of safe and suitable ingredients to a food named by use of a nutrient content claim and a standardized term when these ingredients are used to, among other things, add sweetness to ensure that the modified food is not inferior in performance characteristic to the standardized food even if such ingredients are not specifically provided for by the relevant food standard.

Therefore, while the milk standard of identity in § 131.110 only provides for the use of “nutritive sweetener” in an optional characterizing flavor, milk may contain a characterizing flavor that is sweetened with a non-nutritive sweetener if the food’s label

bears a nutrient content claim (e.g., “reduced calorie”) and the non-nutritive sweetener is used to add sweetness to the product so that it is not inferior in its sweetness property compared to its standardized counterpart. However, IDFA and NMPF argue that nutrient content claims such as “reduced calorie” are not attractive to children, and maintain that consumers can more easily identify the overall nutritional value of milk products that are flavored with non-nutritive sweeteners if the labels do not include such claims. Further, the petitioners assert that consumers do not recognize milk–including flavored milk–as necessarily containing sugar. Accordingly, the petitioners state that milk flavored with non-nutritive sweeteners should be labeled as milk without further claims so that consumers can “more easily identify its overall nutritional value.”

As to the additional dairy standards, IDFA and NMPF state that administrative efficiency counsels in favor of similar changes. As long as FDA is dedicating resources to amending the standard of identity for milk, they argue, the Agency should also amend the standards for these products at the same time. They state that it is most efficient to consider all of the proposals together. According to the petition, the requested changes to the additional dairy standards present the same issues as the milk standard, and it is therefore appropriate to consider all of the requested changes together.

Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal at

Photo Source: Microsoft Clip Art

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