A sip of nutrition

A sip of nutrition

Health watch

A sip of nutrition

If you remember the last time you sipped on coconut water, then you
are awesome’ — this line may remind you of some Facebook memes designed to invoke nostalgia for a forgotten past.

     Unfortunately, it would not be entirely untrue to portray this delicious natural drink as a relic of the past. Tender coconut water or a glass of palm juice will be a rare sight in a youngster’s hands these days; you will most likely find them carrying an aerated beverage or one of those fancy bottles of artificial health drinks.

“Earlier a person would not have thought twice about having tender coconut water or a masala ‘nimbu soda’ from a street side vendor on a hot day,” says Jobin Thomas, a professional. “But people hesitate these days. For one thing, we don’t want to look cheap by having something so inexpensive. We would rather sit in an air-conditioned cafe and sip on outrageously priced coffees — all in the name of ‘social status’. Another thing is how we are very concerned about the hygiene factor of these road side offerings.”

Which is why we prefer to go for the bottled lemonade seen inside shops or don’t think twice before buying that energy drink. But the irony is how you should be more scared of these well-packed and well-marketed juices.

“No matter how much these seemingly natural beverages claim to be healthy, they would have had some preservatives, chemicals or artificial additives,” says Ranjani Raman, dietician.

“Anything commercially produced would most likely have fortified nutrients and other such elements — the addition would be a part of the production process itself. None of these are likely to do us any good. And all these claims of being ‘zero sugar’, ‘zero fat’ are really hard to believe.”

This knowledge is in the common domain yet people refuse to go back and embrace the old favourites. Coconut water has seen a decline in its sales here in India even while it is somewhat of a health craze in America these days. Dubbed as ‘Mother Nature’s sports drink’ by marketers, the demand is skyrocketing there, propelled by celebrity and athlete endorsements.

“We know the benefits of coconut water and we use it in the form of lotions, creams and so on. There are companies that have now come out with bottled coconut water also,” says Megha J. “Yet we hesitate to accept the drink in its natural form because it is seen as an inferior product even though its benefits are too many to list here. Personally, I feel it is a very refreshing drink too and is a much better substitute for these sugar-laden energy drinks.”

Jobin agrees. “It is all about marketing. These beverages try to reach a highly targeted young audience by promoting video games on their websites, social media, flashy ads, and claims that this drink can increase attention, stamina and help with hydration and building muscle. And this is where that ‘nimbu pani’, ‘aam ka panna’ or aloe vera juice lose out. Because they are just not hip enough to catch our fancy.”

“These energy drinks contain caffeine and other stimulants to trick us into believing that we are becoming energised,” explains Ranjani. “But what they are doing is making us dependent on artificial means to boost our energy and ultimately our body becomes used to that quick fix.”

So ultimately you can choose — what you drink can either be the safest way to health or the slowest form of poison.

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