Hide this
Dr. Mercola's Nutrition Plan
Dr. Mercola's Nutrition Plan
Level 1
Dr. Mercola's Nutrition Plan
Level 2

Beverages: Two More Healthy Drinks to Add to Your Diet

Share This Article Share

While pure water should still be your main beverage of choice, there are a couple of drinks – namely green juice and high-quality organic coffee – that you can add to the list when you move to this level.

Try Juicing or Vegetable Smoothies Daily

My philosophy on juicing is to view it as a useful adjunct to your diet. As I mentioned in Level 1, juicing is a great way to reach your daily requirement of vegetables; plus, you get them in their raw form.  While using a high speed blender will limit the amount of vegetables you can consume as the extra fiber fills you up, they do preserve the fiber which is an important nutrient so consider using this approach if you prefer it.

Remember, cooking and processing can severely damage important micronutrients found in these nutritious foods. When you drink freshly made green juice, or a vegetable smoothie, it is almost like getting an intravenous infusion of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes – they go straight into your system without having to be broken down.

If you’re new to juicing, start with mild-tasting veggies like cucumber and celery. From there, you can work your way by beginning to add romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce, escarole, spinach, parsley, and cilantro. When you start to include greens, such as collard greens, kale, dandelion greens, and mustard greens, you’ll notice that they are quite bitter, so just add a few leaves at a time. For flavor and sweetness, you can add the following:

  • Limes and lemons – Add one-half to a whole lime or lemon for every quart of juice. You can juice the skins as well.
  • Cranberries - Limit them to about four ounces per pint of juice.
  • Fresh ginger - This gives your juice a mild, spicy "kick." Plus, ginger has other health benefits as well, including lowering blood glucose.

Make sure that organic green vegetables, and not fruits, make up the bulk of your juice. Otherwise, it will be high in calories and sugar. It can take time to get used to the strong flavor of green juice, but you can tweak it to fit your palate.

Drink High-Quality Organic Coffee

Coffee can have therapeutic benefits – as long as it’s high-quality and organic.  This is important as coffee is typically heavily sprayed with pesticides and most all coffee is not organic. The coffee plant, including its seeds or “beans,” contains a natural blend of polyphenol antioxidants -- such as chlorogenic acids, bioflavonoids, vitamins, and minerals -- that all provide impressive health-promoting benefits. The combination of these elements is so potent that it can actually moderate the harsher effects of naturally occurring caffeine in coffee.

Research has found that coffee may actually have a protective effect on your heart. A study of more than 25,000 people found that those who drank a moderate amount of coffee (three to five cups daily) were less likely to have calcium deposits in their coronary arteries than those who drank either no coffee or more coffee daily.

Other studies found that coffee may help reduce your risk of certain diseases, such as melanoma, non-melanoma skin cancer, multiple sclerosis Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson's disease (Learn more about the benefits of drinking coffee).

However, you can only reap coffee’s benefits if it is:

  • Organic. Most coffee produced today is heavily contaminated with pesticides. It's actually one of the most heavily sprayed crops grown. This isn’t healthy for you or for the farmer. So any coffee you consume should be organic and pesticide-free.
  • Fresh. The coffee should smell and taste fresh, not stale. If your coffee does not have a pleasant aroma, it is likely rancid and of poor quality.
  • Whole bean. You want to purchase coffee in whole-bean form and then grind it yourself to prevent rancidity. Pre-ground coffee may be rancid by the time you brew it.
  • Dark roast. It's often the case that foods with the darkest pigments also offer the most robust benefits to health, and dark roast coffee, such as French roast or those beans used to make espresso or Turkish coffee, may be no exception. Research in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research found that dark roast coffee restored blood levels of the antioxidants vitamin E and glutathione more effectively than light roast coffee. The dark roast also led to a significant body weight reduction in pre-obese volunteers, whereas the light roast did not.
  • Unsweetened. Drink your coffee without sugar or cream. Sugar will certainly ruin any of the benefits discussed above by spiking your insulin levels and causing insulin resistance. If you really can't drink your coffee without any sweeteners, you could try a natural sweetener like stevia. You can also add a healthy butter, coconut oil, MCT oil or even better MCT oil made from 8 carbon fats (C8).

If you are intolerant of caffeine or have a coffee-related rise in blood glucose, you can use coffee that has been decaffeinated, something like the Swiss Water Process.

Further, if you use a "drip" coffee maker, be sure to buy non-bleached filters. The bright white ones, which most people use, are chlorine bleached and some of this chlorine will be extracted from the filter during the brewing process. They are also full of dangerous disinfection byproducts like dioxin. (Be sure that the brand you buy is actually unbleached and not just colored brown to make you think you’re buying a better product.)

There’s actually reason to believe that coffee could help curb your sugar cravings, so if you are struggling with food changes, you can leave coffee on your list. One of the reasons why you get addicted to a food is because your brain has opioid receptors. They're part of a primordial reward system that helps you detect, select and enjoy eating fresh foods over rancid ones.

Today, however, we live in a world of plenty, surrounded by processed foods that are typically loaded with sugar, which has led our opioid receptors to become highly responsive to the wrong foods.

Well, coffee is an opioid receptor antagonist, meaning caffeine can bind to your opioid receptors, occupy them and essentially prohibit you from craving something else. This may attenuate the addictive impact of another substance, such as sugar. So, coffee could conceivably be a viable aid in ridding yourself of sugar addiction. In order for this to work, you must drink your coffee unsweetened. Drink it on an empty stomach and, gradually, your sugar cravings should dissipate.

Recent research has also shown that coffee ALSO triggers a mechanism in your brain that releases a growth factor called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which activates stem cells in the brain, converting them into new neurons.

BDNF also expresses itself in your muscles. It does this by supporting the neuromotor, which is the most critical element in your muscle. Without the neuromotor, your muscle is like an engine without ignition… Neuro-motor degradation is part of the process that explains age-related muscle atrophy. So in this respect, caffeine may also help keep your muscle tissue young.

To get the therapeutic benefits of coffee, drink just one cup of coffee or one shot of espresso in the morning or before your workout – that's it for the day. If you exercise in the morning, have your coffee prior to your workout, not after.

However, remember that coffee should NEVER be consumed if you are pregnant, as it may create a wide range of problems for your baby. Also, if you have high blood pressure, insomnia, anxiety, or are sensitive to the effects of caffeine, then it might be better to skip this beverage and opt for green tea or pure water instead.

Minimize Your Alcohol Intake

At this point, you should aim to minimize your alcohol intake, even “healthier options” like red wine, which is rich in polyphenols like resveratrol. Resveratrol is known for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic properties that aid in the prevention and treatment of cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other chronic diseases.

Unfortunately, researchers have found that there are some wine varieties that contain high levels of arsenic that could spell potential danger for your health.

According to a class-action lawsuit filed in California, wine drinkers have been unwittingly exposed to arsenic. Out of 1,300 bottles of wines tested, nearly one-quarter had four to five times the maximum amount of arsenic than is allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in drinking water. The lawsuit claims that "just a glass or two of these arsenic-contaminated wines a day over time could result in dangerous arsenic toxicity to the consumer."

Beer, another popular alcoholic beverage, was also found to have inorganic arsenic. The FDA tested 65 samples of beer containing rice ingredients, and found that 10 of them contained inorganic arsenic levels ranging from 15 to 26 parts per billion (ppb). (Plus, beer is too high in carbs to be included in this plan.)

Eliminate All Soda and Fruit Juices (Except Freshly Squeezed Ones)

In this level, you should be working on completely eliminating all soda and processed fruit juices from your diet, as they are loaded with fructose and other sugars that drive the disease process.  Just take this for one example: a 20-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola or Pepsi contains 65 grams or 69 grams of sugar respectively. However, a 15.2 ounce bottle of Minute Maid's 100% apple juice, which contains 49 grams of sugar, or 16 ounces of SunnyD with 28 grams of sugar are not good choices either.

I also advise that you do not fall for the myth that bottled fruit juices are, in any way, healthy for you. Aside from overloading you with sugar, processed fruit juices put you at risk of methanol toxicity. This danger is not present in whole fruits, as they contain fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that can counter the severe effects of fructose.

In addition, commercially obtained fruit juices are pasteurized and contain none of the phytonutrients that are contained in whole fruits. They are also devoid of fiber that plays a significant role in protecting you from a rapid and exaggerated rise in blood sugar, as it slows down the rate at which sugar gets into your bloodstream.

Therefore, if you want to consume fruit juice, opt for healthy fresh-squeezed homemade juice. Once squeezed, drink it immediately. I also recommend healthy smoothies that are balanced with moderate amounts of fruit, protein, and healthy fats.

However, remember that it is always better to have the whole fruit, as fruit juices will not have the fiber to limit insulin spikes. Fruit juice is also simply too easy to overconsume. If you chose to drink a healthy form of fruit juice, it is important to carefully calculate your net carbs when you consume fruit juice, to keep them in a healthy range below 50 grams of net carbs a day.

As for soda, do not make the mistake of switching to artificially sweetened no- or low-calorie diet soda. A growing list of studies has firmly debunked the soda industry’s “diet” claims, and reveals that these drinks in fact promote weight gain, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

One study even found that in over a 10-year period, diet soda drinkers had a 70 percent increased risk in waist size compared to non-diet soda drinkers, and that those who drank two or more diet sodas per day had a 500 percent increase in waist size.

Furthermore, certain artificial sweeteners may destroy some of the beneficial species of gut bacteria, disrupting the microbiome. There are also some brain effects from aspartame -- not confirmed by the industry, of course.

Unfortunately, many people are falling for this deception, mainly because soda companies are sneakily hiding behind front groups to confuse consumers about soda science. One example is The Global Energy Balance Network. This sneaky front group is diverting attention away from the evidence that drinking soda is a major risk factor for obesity and diabetes, and is instead placing the blame for obesity on a lack of exercise. They claim that all you need to do to balance a high-sugar diet is to exercise more.

The truth is that exercise, on its own, is largely ineffective for producing any significant amount of weight loss. You will NEED to cut calories as well, which is easy to do with my plan.

Coke and other soda companies are using deceitful marketing strategies to promote their products, at the cost of your health. I urge you to take a stand against their false advertising. Tell Coke they’re a Big JOKE and that they need to stop deceiving consumers about their products using plain old bad/misleading information.

Coke Is A Big JokeCoke Is A Big Joke

Thank you! Your purchases help us support these charities and organizations.