- Certain beverages have been advertised as quick solutions to various health ailments like poor sleep, heart problems, and high blood sugar.
- Despite what many people may think, these drinks don’t always provide health benefits.
- We asked dietitian and nutritionist Whitney English to debunk some of the most popular myths and misconceptions about your favorite drinks.
- Visit insider’s homepage for more stories.
There’s plenty of misinformation out there about your favorite drinks, from diet soda and green juice to an evening cocktail.
With conflicting research and shifting public opinions, it can be easy to get confused about what’s really good for you, and what’s doing more harm than good.
Take red wine for example. Some research has claimed it can reduce heart problems and help you burn fat, so much that drinking a glass of it is equivalent to an hour at the gym. Meanwhile, other research has suggested there’s no safe level of wine to drink at all.
So how can you tell what’s fact and what’s fiction? Insider spoke to Whitney English, a dietitian and nutritionist, to sort it out.
Read on to see 10 of the most common misconceptions about drinks, and what’s actually true, according to an expert.
Green juice will detox your system.
- Joanna Slodownik/Flickr
Green juice, a blended beverage made from kale or spinach, cucumbers, green apples, and other ingredients, is sometimes touted as a miracle drink that can immediately detox your system.
English told Insider that it doesn’t quite work like that.
“It is our liver and kidneys’ job to detoxify harmful substances in the body, and when they are healthy, they do a great job of this all on their own,” she told Insider.
While chemicals found in certain vegetables can help with the detoxifying process, English said, “drinking green juice or going on juice detox regimens is not necessary, and has not been shown to prevent or treat any diseases.”
Diet soda is better than regular soda.
- Getty Images/Fernando Leon
Picking up a soda that’s labeled as “diet” should mean it’s healthier than normal pop, right? Not necessarily, English told Insider.
The dietitian and nutritionist said the artificial sugar in diet sodas can still alter the regulation of blood sugar, known as glucose homeostasis.
“Additionally, drinking diet soda is actually associated with increases in weight, demonstrating that it is not an effective alternative for those trying to manage their weight,” she said.
Recent studies have also linked drinking diet soda with making worse health decisions overall in regards to food.
Red wine is good for you.
Plenty of research has done on the supposed health benefits of red wine. There have even been studies claiming that drinking one glass is comparable to going to the gym for an hour. So is it good for you?
Although red wine has some positive attributes, it’s still alcohol, English said, so tread carefully.
“All alcohol should be consumed in moderation,” she said. “While moderate alcohol intake has been associated with a reduced risk of some conditions like heart disease, even minimal alcohol intake may increase the risk of some cancers, like breast cancer.”
If you’re going to drink alcohol, red wine is likely your best option because of its antioxidant properties, she said.
A juice cleanse will help you lose weight.
- Shutterstock/Ekaterina Iatcenko
Juice cleanses may be marketed as an easy way to slim down fast, but they don’t work in the long term, English said.
“Juice cleanses may help you lose weight initially simply by reducing calories, but you will regain the weight as soon as you begin eating again,” she said. “This is bad in the long run, as yo-yo dieting has been shown to slow metabolism and result in more weight regain in the future.”
Any amount of coffee is bad for you.
- Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Coffee has gotten some negative press for its potentially harmful effect on the heart. But English told Insider that research has shown moderate consumption – drinking one to two cups of joe day – is associated with benefits to brain health and disease risk.
“Coffee intake affects everyone differently, however, based on genetics. I recommend limiting intake to no more than four cups a day.”
A water fast is a quick easy way to lose weight.
No surprise here – English said that participating in a water fast will only do more harm than good in the long run.
“Like juice cleanses, water fasts may result in quick weight loss, but the weight comes back on when you begin eating again,” she said.
Binge drinking means you’re drinking a huge amount of alcohol.
- Chris Jackson/Getty Images
The phrase binge drinking probably calls to mind a college-aged kid downing 10 drinks in one night, but that’s not the actual definition of binge drinking, English said.
“Binge drinking is frequent, excessive alcohol intake that results in a person’s blood alcohol level exceeding 0.08%,” she said. “This usually occurs when men consume more than five drinks in two hours or when women consume more than four drinks in two hours.”
Drinking milk is the only way to build strong bones.
- skynesher/Getty Images
Got milk? English told Insider that it’s OK if you don’t.
“Calcium and vitamin D are essential for building strong, healthy bones, but you don’t need cow’s milk to get them,” English said. “The calcium found in cruciferous vegetables is actually twice as bioavailable as that found in cow’s milk.”
Examples of cruciferous vegetables include cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale.
A nightcap before bed will help you sleep better.
- Shutterstock/Iryna Rasko
The idea of downing just one alcoholic drink before bed may sound like a good idea – after all, it will make you drowsy, and you’ll seemingly fall right into a peaceful slumber.
Turns out, that’s only half true, English said.
“An alcoholic drink may help you fall asleep quicker, but it will also disrupt normal REM sleep and reduce the overall quality of sleep,” she said.
Drinking a lot of water throughout the day doesn’t do anything besides make you have to pee.
Downing water throughout the day does a lot more than cause more frequent bathroom trips, English said.
“Hydration is essential for proper functioning of our digestive, nervous, and metabolic systems,” she told Insider. “Dehydration may cause anxiety, confusion, and a loss of consciousness.”
English said that adults needs about nine to 12 cups of fluid a day – but that number includes the water you get from food and beverages like tea and coffee, “which in fact, do not actually dehydrate you,” English said.