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The Truth About “Healthy” Drinks

From cold-pressed juice and apple cider vinegar to good old lemon-water.

By: Emily Ramshaw
Photography: Renée Rodenkirchen

Staying healthy—no, just staying health conscious—is effing hard work, kind of like keeping up with the Joneses, but with kale (is it a miracle? Not so amazing as we thought? Terrible for the environment?). But bit by bit, we’re sorting through the torrent of science, trends and recipes in an effort to sort through the good, the bad and, as ModelFit nutritionist Vanessa Packer put it, “the poison.” First on our investigative list: the beverages, juices and elixirs we throw back in an effort to, uh, glow from the inside—from green tea to coconut water to $12 cold-pressed juices. Herein, the no-bullshit truth according to three certified nutritionists.

 


 

Hot lemon water

 

“I am a huge fan of hot water with lemon first thing in the morning.  It jumpstarts the digestive system and awakens your senses to the start day. Citrus is also known to act as a mild diuretic, so it can aid in releasing a bit of excess water retention.” –Marissa Lippert, Registered Dietician, Nourish NYC

 


 

coconut water

 

“Coconut water can be a good source of electrolytes like potassium and magnesium, which can  help re-hydrate the body. Some people swear by its anti-aging effects, which may be due to plant hormones called cytokinins. Be wary of brands that are highly processed, made from concentrates or have added sugar.” –Danielle Duboise, Certified Nutritionist; Co-Founder, Sakara Life

 

“I often liken coconut water to ‘nature’s Gatorade.’ High in potassium and electrolytes, I recommend it for post-strenuous workouts or if you’re feeling dehydrated (like after a loooong night out to battle a hangover!).” –Marissa Lippert

 


 

alkaline water

 

“There’s no proven benefit to this product. Our body naturally regulates its pH balance.” –Marissa Lippert

 


 

apple cider vinegar

 

“I'm a big fan of apple cider vinegar. I use it in a lot of my homemade salad dressings. It has a long list of health benefits including preventing heart disease and diabetes, aiding in stomach ailments and supporting weight loss.” –Vanessa Packer Holistic Nutritionist, ModelFit; Co-Founder, Bonberi

 


 

kombucha

 

“Personally, I love Kombucha, and even though the science is undecided, it's been used for centuries as a healing tonic. Listen to your body on this one. It's high in organic acids (powerful detoxifiers) and enzymes and can be a nice afternoon bubbly refresher. That said, many brands add unneeded sugar, so read the ingredient label. Also, some people have sensitivities to yeast content used in brewing and fermentation, so tune in.” –Danielle Duboise

 

“I’m a big fan when it’s good quality! It’s great for aiding in digestive health with the fermentation and probiotic cultures naturally found in the drink.” –Marissa Lippert

 


 

cold-pressed juice

 

“Ideally the fruits and vegatables involved are organic or local to maximize nutrients and minimize chemicals or pesticides. They can be a great addition to your daily diet or serve as a light meal and have a nice boost of vitamins and minerals. They should be fresh pressed to optimize nutrients.” –Marissa Lippert

 

“If you're looking for a way to get more greens, I think cold-pressed juice is your best option next to eating greens. Cold-pressed can contain more intact enzymes, vitamins and minerals than it's centrifuged counterpart, which is thought to add too much heat and oxygen to the juice, changing its nutrition. Just remember that there can be a lot of hidden sugars in any juice and try to stick to greens only. If you're craving sweet produce, eat the fruit instead.” –Danielle Duboise

 


 

Mass-produced juice

 

“Be an educated consumer. Some companies use flavor packets and 'natural' flavors that are anything but natural. Others, like Evolution, use a lot of organic produce, then follow by HPP-ing the juice to make it more shelf stable, yet is believed to keep the nutrition of the juice more potent than other forms of processing. The pro is that they help more people to get more fruits and veggies in their diet. The con is that they can be falsely advertised as healthy when they’re loaded with sugar and unnatural ingredients.” –Danielle Duboise

 


 

smoothies

 

“Pros: smoothies can be a great way to get more greens, superfoods, minerals, vitamins and micronutrients. They also contain fiber, which allows you a little bit of room to play with sweet produce like fruit as it slows down the absorption of the sugar. Cons: Some people don't digest smoothies well, which can cause some discomfort due to fermentation and gas. Try chewing your smoothie to help activate your salivary glands that provide digestive enzymes to begin the breakdown of sugars before they hit your gut.” –Danielle Duboise

 

“Smoothies can be too caloric, sugar-laden or large in terms of portion size. Stick to basic ingredients that you know and can pronounce and stick to small sizes! 12-16 ounces or less!”–Marissa Lippert

 


 

green bean coffee

 

“I haven't dabbled with this much, but it's supposed to have health benefits due to the higher levels of Chlorogenic acid, which is said to prevent heart disease, diabetes and has been associated with weight loss. It can't hurt to try it out.” –Vanessa Packer 

 


 

green tea

 

“I love green tea. I drink it everyday. It's a great source of antioxidants and can curb food cravings. It contains caffeine, but I find it's an easier source of caffeine to process as opposed to coffee or something stronger.” –Vanessa Packer

 


 

tea cleanses

 

“I like to drink tea everyday, but I wouldn't suggest the average person do a tea cleanse. With all cleanses, one needs to be at a very high level of health and lifestyle beforehand to really reap the benefits and experience sustained change. The average person who does a tea cleanse and then returns back to the lifestyle they had beforehand, for example, would probably experience weight gain as well as body shock—just something to keep in mind. In my opinion, it's better to include healthy habits in your daily experience without going on an all out cleanse.” –Vanessa Packer

 


 

energy drinks

 

“These are terrible for you. They are unnatural; your body cannot fully process the chemicals. It's poison, stay away!”–Vanessa Packer

 

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