Thinkin’ about drinkin’—here’s my take on beverages.


Cheers! Here’s to your health!

After 467 consecutive daily blogs, this is my first post about beverages. My top ten list shown here includes four in the healthy category and six in the not-so-healthy column. Occasionally, we hear some good news about our coffee or alcohol, but generally the report card is not that good when it comes to some of our favorite beverages.

Here is my Top Ten List—ranked in order of health—in my opinion

Smoothies are a great way to ‘eat’ some vegetables that you may not enjoy by themselves.

1. Whole plant smoothie (fruit, veggie, nuts, seeds, etc.) This is a 100% healthy drink with nothing but whole plants in liquid form. Still has all the fiber and nutrients with no added ingredients. Definitely a 4Leaf meal in a glass.*

2. Water and/or herbal tea. We hear people recommending a certain number of glasses of water per day. It all depends on how much water you’re eating—and if you’re eating at the 4Leaf level, you’re eating a lot of water. I just drink water when I feel like it, beginning with the very first thing that enters my stomach each morning. With regards to the herbal tea, I am obviously talking about tea with no caffeine and nothing added.

3. Fresh fruit and/or vegetable juice. When I first started learning about nutrition in 2002, I was doing a whole lot of juicing. But when I started thinking in terms of maximizing my consumption of whole plants, I realized that I had probably thrown away 1,000 pounds of fiber during those first few years. Even without the fiber, we all know that fresh juice is very good for our bodies.

4. Milk substitutes, unsweetened (rice, almond, soy, oat, etc.) Most of the these milks are used for adding to our coffee, tea or breakfast cereal. I use a mixture of vanilla flavored almond and water on my oatmeal each day, but I am just as happy with a mixture of fruit juice or smoothie. If we had never started drinking cow’s milk in the first place, these kinds of drinks may not even exist.

Now for the not-so-healthy

5. Coffee and/or tea (without sugar or cream). Okay, I know it’s not good for me so I decided to cut way back on this morning habit. My average consumption now is one small Starbucks Pike Place, black. Prior to 2002, I was drinking four times as much. See Greger video below on coffee. As for the tea, I am talking about any tea with caffeine—not herbal tea mentioned above.

6. Packaged fruit or veggie juices. These are pretty much sugar drinks nowadays and are probably no better than soft drinks. You should work with your kids to find a ‘smoothie’ formula that they LOVE. Then give it to them everyday—and stop buying this not-so-healthy choice.

7. Infant formula—have you checked the ingredient lately? Pretty scary stuff, see my analysis below with an ingredient list from one of the big three brands.

8. Soft drinks (with or without sugar). No explanation needed here; zero nutritional value.

9. Alcohol (wine, beer, vodka, gin, etc.) — See McDougall video below. I didn’t have my first alcoholic beverage until I was 21; and at one point in my life, I consumed quite a bit more than I do today. I agree with Dr. McDougall, this stuff is not good for you, but it’s okay as long as it doesn’t become a problem for you or anyone else.  If by chance you or someone you know does take drinking alcohol to the extreme, a Florida alcohol rehab treatment center would be worth looking into, and attending.

10. Cow’s milk. Unfit for human consumption at any age; it is associated with heart disease, cancer, & diabetes. It contains casein, the most powerful carcinogen ever discovered, according to T. Colin Campbell. Read Nigel’s “Beware the Sacred Cow” piece.

*As for our 4Leaf score, beverage #1 wins by a score of 100 to zero when compared to any of the other nine beverages. It is the only one that has ANY whole plants.

 Dr. Michael Greger on Coffee (#5 on my list)

Here’s what Dr. Michael Greger had to say about coffee—beginning with the good news:

Each daily cup o’ joe was associated with about a 3% reduced risk of cancers, especially bladder, breast, mouth, colorectal, endometrial, esophageal, liver, leukemic, pancreatic, and prostate cancers. BUT, before you triple your daily dose, read about the down side:

Some health conditions may be worsened by coffee, such as insomnia, anxiety, gastroesophageal reflux (heartburn), high blood pressure, and certain heartbeat rhythm irregularities. There are also compounds in coffee that increase cholesterol levels, but are effectively removed when filtered through paper, so drip coffee is preferable to boiled, French press and espresso. Pregnant women should restrict caffeine consumption to less than two cups of coffee a day.

And here’s his one-minute video on Coffee & Cancer

The New York Times had a piece about the benefits of coffee this week (5-16-12)

Now for Infant Formula at #7—scoring slightly better than soft drinks, alcohol & cow’s milk

Be sure to check the ingredient list.

Have you taken a look at the ingredients list lately? It doesn’t matter which brand you’re looking at, they’re all pretty scary. Unable to breast feed your newborn? Then find an enlightened MD to help work out a truly healthy way for you to feed that precious child. Here’s what most babies are getting today—and the collective impact on their future health is unknowable data.

WHEY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE (FROM COW’S MILK, ENZYMATICALLY HYDROLYZED, REDUCED IN MINERALS), VEGETABLE OILS (PALM OLEIN, SOY, COCONUT, AND HIGH-OLEIC SAFFLOWER OR HIGH-OLEIC SUNFLOWER), CORN MALTODEXTRIN, LACTOSE GALACTO-OLIGOSACCHARIDES*, AND LESS THAN 2% OF: POTASSIUM CITRATE, POTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, CALCIUM CHLORIDE, CALCIUM PHOSPHATE, SODIUM CITRATE, MAGNESIUM CHLORIDE, FERROUS SULFATE, ZINC SULFATE, SODIUM CHLORIDE, COPPER SULFATE, POTASSIUM IODIDE, MANGANESE SULFATE, SODIUM SELENATE, M. ALPINA OIL**, C. COHNII OIL***, SODIUM ASCORBATE, INOSITOL, CHOLINE BITARTRATE, ALPHA-TOCOPHERYL ACETATE, NIACINAMIDE, CALCIUM PANTOTHENATE, RIBOFLAVIN, VITAMIN A PALMITATE, PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE, THIAMINE MONONITRATE, FOLIC ACID, PHYLLOQUINONE, BIOTIN, VITAMIN D3, VITAMIN B12, TAURINE, NUCLEOTIDES (CYTIDINE 5′-MONOPHOSPHATE, DISODIUM URIDINE 5′-MONOPHOSPHATE, ADENOSINE 5′-MONOPHOSPHATE, DISODIUM GUANOSINE 5′-MONOPHOSPHATE), ASCORBYL PALMITATE, MIXED TOCOPHEROLS, L-CARNITINE, SOY LECITHIN.

  • *A prebiotic fiber sourced from milk.
  • **A source of arachidonic acid (ARA).
  • ***A source of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

McDougall on Alcoholic Beverages

Like soft drinks or coffee, we know that the less we drink of these the better. Even though they are all plant-based (Thank God), they have a No-Leaf score on our 4Leaf system. The good news about alcohol; unless it becomes a problem for someone, is this:

  1. It’s probably better for adults than infant formula is for babies.
  2. It’s definitely better for adults than cow’s milk, which is associated with heart disease, cancer, & diabetes. It contains casein, the most powerful carcinogen ever discovered, according to Dr. T. Colin Campbell.

Two minute video from Dr. McDougall

Cheers, and have a great weekend!

Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Diagnostic Survey. It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to jmorrishicks@me.com

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J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page or some great recipes at Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.

Got a question? Let me hear from you at jmorrishicks@me.com. Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.

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Blogging daily at hpjmh.com…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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3 Responses to Thinkin’ about drinkin’—here’s my take on beverages.

  1. Jean Myers says:

    I was surprised to see you left out tea so I checked three times! To avoid caffeine I use herbal teas, but that is my favorite drink. I usually have rooibos chai in the morning with unsweetened soy milk and a plain herbal variety in the afternoon. I would place them with the other healthy beverages toward the top of your list.

    • jmorrishicks says:

      Hi Jean, You are so right. I completely forgot about tea, which I do enjoy several times a month. And it is always herbal tea with nothing added. I have just gone back and added it to my list—it now shares #2 with good old H2O. Best, Jim

  2. Lisa says:

    I found out many wines and beer do contain animal product, although it’s mostly trace amounts. White wines often use a product called Isinglass which is made from fish bladder. It’s used in the clarification process. So if you’re trying your best to stay away from animal product all together, know what you’re drinking as well as eating. http://www.barnivore.com/# allows you to search wines and beers to see if they are vegan (I’m sure there are other sites as well). I’ve also had good response by emailing the manufacturer direclty. I’ve emailed 4 different wine manufacturers and all responded to me the same day on whether or not their products contain any animal ingredients. Cheers!

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