Drink to your health!

Drinking just water can get dull, so consider these five drinks for an array of health and fitness advantages

Coffee
The energising effects of a morning cup of coffee are known to sleep-starved adults the world over, but there’s more reasons for drinking coffee than just getting you out of bed. One is increased protection from brain diseases including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, according to Canada’s Krembil Brain Institute, thanks to compounds called phenylindanes formed during the roasting of coffee beans. These inhibit the coalescing in the brain of two protein fragments seen in patients with degenerative brain illnesses. Another is a reduced risk of heart disease and obesity, thanks to caffeine. The stimulant promotes the movement of a regulatory protein into cardiovascular cells, enhancing their ability to function and preventing them from damage, according to the PLOS Biology journal. Just don’t have a coffee, or any caffeinated drinks, after lunch time so as to not affect your sleep.

Milk
A protein shake after working out kick-starts the recovery process that builds muscle – and few drinks offer as much protein as milk. But did you know that it will help burn off excess fat too? That’s according to a study, published in the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition, that reported on different post-workout drinking strategies for optimal muscle gain and fat loss. All subjects lifted weights five times a week for 12 weeks and after each session drank either milk, a soy-based drink with the equivalent protein and energy, or a carb-based drink with the equivalent energy. Those given milk not only gained 40% more muscle than the soy drinkers, and 63% more than the carb group, they also lost twice as much fat – an average of almost 1kg – while the carb drinkers lost around half as much fat and the soy drinkers lost none at all. Milk contains more than just protein and healthy fats: a 100ml serving of semi-skimmed contains 5.8g of carbs, 37% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin B12 for better energy levels, and 16% of your calcium RDI for stronger bones.

Orange juice
Orange juice may be out of favour for those wanting to cut down on their daily intake of sugar, but a daily glass of OJ can decrease your risk of age-related memory loss. Subjects who drank a juice every day were 47% less likely to develop poor thinking skills than those who drank less than one serving a month, according to a 20-year study of almost 28,000 men published in the online journal Neurology. There was also a strong link between high vegetable consumption and greater memory: men who consumed the most servings of vegetables each day were 34% less likely to develop poor thinking skills than those who consumed the fewest. So if you want to protect your brain without the sugar of fruit juice, up your veggie intake instead.

Beer
You’ll know from bitter experience that too many pints isn’t good for your head, especially the morning after. But drinking little and often can actually benefit your brain by reducing inflammation and helping clear out the build-up of toxins and other waste products, according to the journal Scientific Reports. While excessive alcohol consumption is a well-documented health hazard, other research has shown a link between low intake and a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. And this latest study suggests that a little alcohol can improve the efficiency of the glymphatic system, which moves cerebral spinal fluid through the brain to remove waste while we sleep. But remember that all alcohol contains calories, so if you want to lose weight don’t have too many drinks too often.

Lemon juice
When life gives you lemons… add the juice of one, plus some zest, to a mug of hot water as your first drink of the morning, then add some more to a big bottle of water for the day. Why? It’ll hydrate you fast without calories or caffeine, and research in the Journal Of Clinical Biochemistry And Nutrition found that polyphenols – or antioxidant plant compounds – in lemons may help stimulate your liver to burn fat. You can also try adding some juice to sparkling water for a ultra-low calorie lemonade-like drink.

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