The Healthy Diet Dilemma I

set with different bottles

Maintaining balance in what you eat to satisfy hunger takes work but another dimension may make it even harder  – THIRST.

I haven’t been asked to leave a convenient store yet, but I’ve received a few glares from clerks for holding the cooler doors open too long while I check labels. A woman reaching for an antioxidant drink at the same time as I did asked “Which one did you want?” I said “coconut” and she replied, “I know it’s good for you, but I hate the taste.” I understood because she chose “cherry”, which I hate. Taste is an important consideration.  Watching other customers open and grab a can or bottle quickly makes we wish I could be sure what I’m thirsty for and often I just grab a water, unsweetened tea,  or cucumber line energy drink (if they have it). With a dozen drink cooler sections, fountain drinks, lattes, coffee drinks, and even make-it-yourself milkshakes, some stores boggle the mind with the possibilities. However, most people, myself included, can usually narrow their choice  by eliminating certain sections depending on their tastes and what they want to avoid.

Speaking of avoidance, here are some ingredients that sound like you should avoid them, but are not necessarily bad.

  • niacinamide – Vitamin B3
  • riboflavin – Vitamin B2
  • cyanocobalamin -Vitamin B12
  • pyridoxine hypo chloride (HCL)  – Vitamin B6
  • pantothenic acid – Vitamin B5

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly:

  • Glucuronolactone – is a normal human metabolite formed from glucose and is found in most connective tissue. After extreme exercise it can detoxify (liver) – Good. Most people don’t need this and should probably skip it. – Bad. A popular energy drink with glucuronolactone (and a lot of caffeine) has been banned in France after deaths from drinking 3 or more drinks. – Ugly.
  • citric acid – is not the same as ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) but is found in many citrus fruits. Most of it passes through the body when consumed. It enhances flavor and acts as a deterrent to bacteria (like botulism) that cannot live in an acidic environment -Good. Sensitivity or allergy to citric acid can cause mouth ulcers, gastrointestinal issues, and headaches – Bad. Citric acid can come from fruit but it is also produced as a byproduct of mold (Aspergillius niger).  There is no way of knowing how the citric acid in beverages was produced unless stated on the label.- Ugly
  • inositol – A vitamin-like substance that may help fight depression, infertility, OCD, insomnia, weight gain and other conditions – Good. Side effects may include skin irritations, nausea, and too much can make bipolar disorder worse (although in combo with taurine and caffeine) – Bad. There appears to be no “ugly” to it but again pregnant and nursing woman are cautioned to avoid it.

GRAS – Generally Recognized As Safe:

The Food and Drug Administration maintains a huge database of GRAS food additives at  (you will have to click on Food Additives Status List on the left and chose the first letter of additive or scroll down for complete list.) You can check such ingredients as inositol, guar gum, guarana extract, sodium citrate, panax ginseng root, calcium casein ate, sorbic acid and more. However, just because an additive is likely safe and on the list doesn’t mean it is safe for you. Individual health issues, especially diabetes, heart and kidney problems,  pregnancy and/or nursing, and prescribed medications can drastically alter the safety of many of them. I check a number of sites online –  google the name of the additive then click on sites like webmd (uses, side effects, interactions, and dosing) everyday health, livestrong, healthline, and the World’s Healthiest Foods (enter food or supplement in search box).

OR you could drink:

Ranked in order by American Society for Clinical Nutrition (cited at end of blog)

  • water
  • unsweetened tea
  •  coffee
  • low-fat or skim milk or soy beverages
  • non-calorically sweetened beverages
  •  beverages with some nutritional benefits – fruit and vegetable juices
  • whole milk
  • alcohol
  • sports drinks
  • calorically sweetened nutritionally poor beverages

This Proposed Guidance System in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition was published in 2006 and an opposing view can be read in a later issue (cited below). Interesting that alcohol is ranked above sports drinks. Today, there are many  new drinks to choose from – probiotic drinks, dozens of energy drinks ( no calorie, with caffeine, milk, coffee, juice, vinegars, sugar, extracts, protein, and more), and waters (flavored, carbonated or with electrolytes, Sucralose, the dreaded Aspartame, sodium, and more.)

It is good to have choices, of course. Personally, I choose filtered water first, and then try to vary my drink selections as much as possible to avoid obsession with any one particular brand and balance different daily needs. Staying informed, reading labels and seeing how drinks affect me, I choose my “poison” selectively. What’s your choice? Now, what kind of container do you want it in – plastic, glass, ceramic, paper or styrofoam cup?


Popkin, Barry M. et al, “A new proposed guidance system for beverage consumption in the United States”, American Society for Clinical Nutrition, 2006 URL is unavailable but you can search the title to view the text.

Weaver, C. et al, “Opposing comment to A new guidance system”, American Society for Clinical Nutrition, 2006.



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