Water is an essential nutrient required by every cell, tissue and organ to function. Water can be found from the tap or a bottle, but is also abundant in many solid foods as well, such as juicy fruits and vegetables. Flavored waters add variety, but also add additional chemicals and sometimes added calories. Adding fresh fruit to your water is refreshing, nutritious and cost effective. Most people need 8-12 cups of water daily.

Cow’s milk is the most common form of milk on the market; it is usually fortified with vitamins A and D and comes packed with carbohydrates, protein, and calcium; it may also be filled with saturated, aka: “bad”, fat if consumed as whole milk. Skim, 1%, and 2% milk offer a lower fat, equally nutritious, option to whole milk.  Several other milk or milk-like alternates are available but read the labels for nutritive value as some do not provide the calcium, vitamins, protein and/or carbohydrates found in cow’s milk.

Juice, specifically fruit juice, is a quick, easy way to get a serving of fruit in your diet. Look for 100% fruit juice in the label as many juice companies add sugar to their juices for added sweetness. Adding sugar to naturally sweet fruit juice only adds calories and no other nourishment.

Vegetable juice is a low calorie, highly nutritive beverage option.  Read the labels as many prepared single- or multi-vegetable juices are preserved with salt/sodium.

Did you know soft drinks are mostly water? That’s right! Regular soft drinks are approximately 90% water while diet soft drinks are approximately 99% water!  Before choosing soft drinks over water, be advised that regular soft drinks also come with sugar and/or high-fructose corn syrup which are simply calories without any nourishment. Diet soft drinks, though low or without calories, often come with sugar substitutes, such as saccharin or aspartame, products that may be less healthy to your body.  Both types may come with other added chemical components for flavor, color, and preservation and both may also come with caffeine. Caffeine has a diuretic effect, that is, caffeine has the potential for increasing water loss, exactly what you don’t want if you are drinking to rehydrate!

Coffee may have more nutritive value than one realizes. Research is showing coffee may reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, as well as provide much desired antioxidants.  However, 2-3 cups per day is adequate as coffee can increase blood pressure. Similar to other products containing caffeine, Coffee has the potential to dehydrate.

Teas are a flavorful beverage with a long history of healing properties. Research has shown that the antioxidants in tea help build your immune system, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, reduce the risk of various cancers as well as Alzheimer’s disease.

Sports drinks were created to replace fluid, energy, and electrolytes, ie: potassium and sodium, for athletes involved in vigorous exercise over time.  In general, most “every day” athletes do not require such a sport drink if active for approximately 45 minutes to an hour or less; most often these athletes require only water.  However, sports drinks are a benefit to those who may be losing fluid, energy and electrolytes thru excessive vomiting, diarrhea, perspiration and decreased oral intake.

Energy drinks come in many sizes, shapes, and flavors.  They are touted for athletes and non-athletes who are tired or fatigued. Many of the energy drinks provide sugar and caffeine to respond to fatigue.  Studies suggest that finding and treating the cause of the fatigue to be more beneficial than routine use of energy drinks.

Alcoholic beverages are often considered to be “empty calories” in that they provide a high amount of calories without any noted nutritional value.  Red wine has been noted to contain Resvesterol, a product that may reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers; therefore, moderate consumption of red wine may provide some health benefits.

Choose your beverages carefully and enjoy some of the satisfaction and health benefits they provide.