Beverages and Brain Health: Choose Wisely

How do beverage choices affect brain health?

Are you keeping in mind your beverage choices? Seems harmless at first glance, but a steady intake of sodas, fruit drinks, sweetened iced tea or alcoholic cocktails may be adding up to lots of empty calories. An excess of empty calories can play a role in the development of obesity and diabetes, ultimately contributing to lifestyle factors that adversely affect your brain health. Better brain health habits begin with small steps and perhaps, smart sips!

Better Beverages for Brains

  • Wise up with Water
    As we age, we gradually lose our ability to sense thirst. Dehydration can lead to temporary bouts of confusion and dementia. Aim for 8,  8-ounce cups of water a day, even more in hot climates or after exercise. Staying hydrated can also improve brain function.
  • Coffee, tea …it’s good for me!
    Coffee and tea contain antioxidants that are thought to help protect your brain. Be cautious, however, of consuming too much as some people are sensitive to caffeine and the diuretic effects of some teas and coffees.
  • Maybe a little alcohol
    Learn how alcohol can affect the brain and how much is too much for your brain health.

Save it for a Special Occasion!

  • Soda, diet too!
    Regular soda is high in sugar and has no nutritional value, aka “empty” calories. Diet soda isn’t much better. Some research suggests that artificial sugars can trigger the brain to react just like it would with real sugar, increasing your desire and craving for sugary treats and causing insulin confusion.
  • Colorful, Sugary ‘ades’
    Read labels! Take a peek at the amount of carbohydrates and number of servings. Remember 5 grams of carbohydrates equals about 1 tsp of sugar.  These, often artificial color laden beverages can add empty nutrition to your diet contributing to weight gain.
  • Sports drinks
    Unless you are actively sweating in a hot climate, have a fever, or are dehydrated from a stomach illness, the electrolytes found in sports drinks are unnecessary and could contribute to your sodium load for the day.
  • Shakes
    A creamy milkshake can add as much as 800 calories to your meal. You’d need to actively swim for an hour or take an indoor cycle class to convert those extra calories.

Unusually Thirsty or not at All?

Changes in thirst or chronic thirst could signal signs of disease.  Dehydration, diabetes and certain medications can cause you to feel excessively thirsty or not sense dehydration. Let your healthcare provider know if you sense changes.

You can do it!

Making small lifestyle changes can add up to help you maintain a healthy brain, possibly  one sip at a time.

Visit: https://healthybrains.org/pillar-nutrition/ to learn more tips about food and beverages for brain health.

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