By: Dr. Al Sears, MD
It doesn’t matter how healthy or thin you are, reaching for a sugary drink is still dangerous for your heart. Four times as dangerous as not drinking one.
New research presented at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association finds that women who drank only two sugary drinks a day were nearly four times as likely to have high triglycerides, the best predictor of heart risk for women.
They were also significantly more likely to have impaired blood sugar levels even when not eating or drinking.(1)
Sugary drinks increase triglycerides because they are almost pure carbohydrate. Drinking flavored water, sweetened tea, soda, or those dessert-like coffees send a rush of sugar straight into your bloodstream.
When your body gets too much of this kind of carbohydrate, it wants to store it as fat. How does it do this? It turns the carbs into triglycerides. Then it transports them through the blood from the liver where they’re made to the adipose cells where they’re stored.
Problem is, even if you’re outwardly thin, this fat can accumulate around your organs without you ever knowing it. It’s called visceral fat. It causes inflammation, and can lead to the inflammatory diseases diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.
And sugary drinks are bad for that reason, but diet drinks may actually be worse.
Researchers were shocked when looking at results from the San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging. They followed 474 people for nearly 10 years. They compared the change in waist size for diet soda users versus non-users (both sugary drink drinkers and non-drinkers).
People who drank diet sodas had a 70 percent greater increase in waist size. And for those who said they drank two or more diet sodas a day, their bellies grew by 500 percent more.(2)
That’s five times bigger waists for people drinking diet sodas.
On average, for each diet soft drink you have each day, you’re 65 percent more likely to become overweight during the next seven to eight years, and 41 percent more likely to become obese.
And it’s not just soda. All juices are just as bad when packaged.
You just can’t package things without ruining them. Because they’re either going to be homogenized, pasteurized or from concentrate and all of those ruin the vitamins and increase the glycemic index.
Unless you’re going to pick the fruit and drink the juice fresh, don’t drink juice.
So what should you drink?
Tea is a very good alternative. Use lemon and lime for flavoring, and if you want a bit of sweetness, use honey. Agave nectar is not too bad, either.
Plain water is another way to go, and you could sweeten your water with just a little bit of fresh squeezed juice or raw sugar.
My favorite flavored water is cucumber water.
Here are three ways to make it:
- The first way is to blend a cucumber and strain out the juice overnight. I use any old strainer lined with a cheesecloth, but you can use a fine strainer, too.
- Just let the juice drip out of the cucumber into a container in the fridge, and the next daymix the juice you get with a pitcher of ice water. The thing I like about this method is you can decide how much cucumber juice to add, depending on how strong a flavor you want.
- You could also cut up a cucumber into small chunks, cover them in the amount of water you want to drink and let it soak in the fridge overnight. In the morning, strain it into a glass or pitcher and throw away the cucumbers.
- The third way is to add a bunch of slices of cucumber to some ice water, let it sit for a couple of hours, and you’ll have a tasty drink in no time.
Mint makes cucumber water even more refreshing. If you add mint, blend it in with the cucumber in the first method. Chop the mint and let it soak with the cucumber chunks in the second method, or just break up some mint and let it sit in the water for the third.
Editors Note: Dr. Al Sears, M.D. is a board-certified clinical nutrition specialist. His practice, Dr. Sears' Health & Wellness Center in Royal Palm Beach, Fla., specializes in alternative medicine. He is the author of seven books in the fields of alternative medicine, anti-aging, and nutritional supplementation, including The Doctor's Heart Cure. To get his free special report on the proven anti-aging strategies for building a vibrant, disease-free life, go here now. You'll learn how to stop Father Time without giving up the foods you love.
1. Shay, C., et. al. "Sugar-sweetened beverages may increase cardiovascular risk in women." American Heart Assoc. www.heart.org. Scientific Sessions. Nov. 13, 2011.
2. Sansom, W. "New analysis suggests ‘diet soda paradox’ – less sugar, more weight." Univ Tex SA Health Sci Ctr. www.uthscsa.edu. June, 2005. Retrieved Dec 1, 2011.
As outdoor temperatures and physical activity levels begin to rise in the summer months, so does the need to stay hydrated and keep energy levels high. A perfect match to beat those summertime slumps is honey and coconut water. Not only will this combination satisfy your thirst, but it will also provide a much needed boost to help sustain energy throughout a busy summer day.
Below, please find the recipe for a Tropical Honey Coconut Water Cooler. Featuring a mouth-watering mix of refreshing coconut water, honey, pineapple and bananas, this drink is the ultimate summer quencher. Honey, a natural energy booster that contains just one ingredient, provides a perfect balance to the coconut water, which has experienced a recent rise in popularity among both foodies and fitness-oriented people. This unique drink will carry the senses away to a beautiful, temperate locale in the Caribbean – or at least make you feel like you’re there.
Honey, a pure and versatile ingredient, can be the perfect complement to just about any summer recipe. For additional honey recipes, visit www.honey.com
Prep time: 5 minutes
- 1 cup coconut water
- 1/2 cup frozen pineapple chunks
- 1/2 cup banana chunks (1 small banana)
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
- Toasted coconut
In blender, combine all ingredients except toasted coconut. Blend on high speed until frothy; pour into 16-ounce glass and sprinkle coconut on top. Serve immediately. Makes 1 serving.
Nutrition Information Per Serving: 287 calories; 1 g fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 51 mg sodium; 865 mg potassium; 74 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 2 g protein
Spring is in the air so it must be time to do some spring cleaning. I'm not talking about washing windows, dusting furniture, or scrubbing the toilet...I'm talking about scrubbing YOU! After the dry winter months our skin may be less than desirable! Try this body scrub that can be made with ingredients you may already have in your kitchen!
Honey Body Scrub
- 1 tsp. honey
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 cup raw, granulated sugar
- 2 tsp. lemon zest (or any citrus zest)
Mix honey and olive oil together well. Stir in sugar. Mix in zest.
Store in a jar.
The benefits of honey are many! For recipes and more information about honey, click here!
Honey is such an intriguing food with a long history. How is it possible for this sticky sweet treat to have so many benefits?
“Honey's unique composition makes it an effective antimicrobial agent, useful for treating minor burns and scrapes, and for aiding the treatment of sore throats and other bacterial infections. Of recent interest is the antioxidant content of honey. Honey contains a variety of flavonoids and phenolic acids which act as antioxidants, scavenging and eliminating free radicals. Generally, darker honeys have higher antioxidant content than lighter honeys. Honey is composed primarily of carbohydrates and water, and also contains small amounts of a wide array of vitamins and minerals, including niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.
Bifidobacteria are a group of bacteria considered important to the health of the gastrointestinal tract (i.e., “good bacteria”). Increasing the populations of these “good bacteria” (and suppressing potentially deleterious microorganisms) are thought to be important to maintaining optimal gastrointestinal health. There are generally two approaches for increasing the populations of bifidobacteria in the gut: (1) ingesting the live and active cultures or (2) enhancing the growth of the indigenous bifidobacteria. The first method has been referred to as a “probiotic” while the second is considered a “prebiotic”.
According to ancient folklore, Greeks and Romans used honey to increase strength and stamina in their athletes. Although honey’s benefits in sports were widely embraced by early civilizations, the need to scientifically show the benefits of honey for athletic performance and endurance is very modern.
The National Honey Board had commissioned a 3-part research study with a leading university to help show that honey works to give athletes an energy boost before and after exercise. The research also showed that honey may help tired muscles recover more quickly after heavy exercise. Though honey is one of the earliest foods, scientific knowledge of this wonderful product is just now beginning to grow.
Historical Honey Beauty Secrets
• Madame du Barry, the infamous last mistress of Louis XV, used honey as a form of facial mask, lying down for a rest while the honey did its work.
• Cleopatra of Egypt regularly took honey and milk baths to maintain her youthful appearance.
• It was said that Queen Anne of England used a honey and oil concoction to keep her long hair lustrous, thick and shiny.
• It was claimed that another famous Englishwoman, Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, used her own secret recipe for a honey water to keep her hair beautiful.
• Chinese women have a tradition of using a blend of honey and ground orange seeds to keep their skin blemish-free.
Honey as an Antimicrobial
Honey has been used as a therapeutic agent since ancient times for “disorders” ranging from baldness to gastrointestinal distress. During the early part of the 20th century, researchers began to document the wound healing properties of honey. The introduction of antibiotics in the 1940’s temporarily stymied honey's use. Nonetheless, concerns regarding antibiotic resistance and renewed interest in “natural” remedies has promoted a resurgence of interest in the antimicrobial and wound healing properties of honey.
Honey and Oral Health
Honey is known to possess a variety of antioxidants and antibacterial substances that have been shown to inhibit growth of a wide range of bacteria and fungi. The antimicrobial properties of honey may render it beneficial in the treatment of various oral ailments including periodontal disease and mouth ulcers.”
Above is from the National Honey Board’s website: honey.com
Pumpkin Honey Bread
1 C. raw honey
½ C. butter
1 can solid pumpkin, 16 oz. (or use fresh prepared pumpkin)
4 free-range eggs
4 C. flour
4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
In a large bowl, cream honey with butter until fluffy. Stir in pumpkin. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly incorporated.
Sift together remaining ingredients. Stir into pumpkin mixture.
Divide batter equally between two well-greased 9x5x3-inch loaf pans.
Bake for one hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool loaves in pans for 10 minutes. Invert pans to remove loaves and allow to finish cooling on racks. Makes 2 loaves.
Honey Iced Tea
8 C. boiling water
1 C. fresh mint
4 tea bags
½ C. raw honey, more or less to taste
Mix the first three ingredients together and allow to steep for about five minutes. Remove fresh mint and tea bags. Allow to cool then whisk in the honey. Refrigerate, serve over ice.