Science behind the latest health drinks

People will read from Prevention magazine that if you drink collagen your hair will grow faster and skin will light up like a Christmas tree. If I wasn't in medicine I'd also buy into that! I mean who knows maybe it works, and if a published magazine prints it, it's probably true, right?

The best thing I can do here on my blog is to take a hype, analyze it, do a little research and inform people of a pinch of science. I don't want to be a myth buster, but rather an information source of easily digestible, factual information about a very misinformed and relevant subject.

Lately there's been quite a bit of buzz around superfoods and health drinks. From bone broth to wheatgrass shots, what is healthy and what is just plain ridiculous?

Thus far, there has not been enough research conducted to validate any of the miracle drinks, but that's not to say they don't offer an array of benefits to some!

Without further ado, in no particular order, starting off with:

Matcha

When I first heard about the Matcha craze I was all about it. Already familiar with the benefits of Green Tea, a more condensed version of the stuff sounded right up my alley. Antioxidants like epigallocatechin gallate (aka EGCG) , polyphenols and their proven effects on suppressing tumor growth (ie, cancer prevention) and even stimulating brain function can be found in small quantities in each cup you brew.

There are literally hundreds of articles on GoogleScholar on the benefits of Green Tea, so this one is definitely worth the hype!

As if green tea isn't already good enough for you, matcha is a more potent version of the traditional tea. As opposed to a dried tea leaf, matcha is a powder pulverized from unprocessed tea leaves. Instead of soaking a dried leaf, to prepare a cup of matcha you dissolve a powder, creating a much more concentrated drink. I can't say much about the "calm zen" feeling after drinking a matcha tea others claim, but I can account for it's notable caffeine kick!

Matcha is commonly enjoyed as a latte, with warm milk and honey, but I prefer it simply on its own! If you don't already drink green tea, Matcha will hit your taste buds with a bat. It's tangy, strong and curiously dry. I did not enjoy my first cup, but once I started playing around with proportions and milk/water combinations, I enjoyed the antioxidant boost in all it's sour glory.


Picture borrowed from Pinterest

To make matcha you're supposed to use a matcha tea wisk seen in the above photo. But if you don't have the luxury of enjoying a beautiful Japanese tea ceremony, a regular kitchen wisk or milk frother will work just fine.

To make a matcha tea: Put a small amount of powder (about 1/4 - 1/2 tsp) in the bottom of a cup, add a little just-below-boil water and wisk away until the powder has fully dissolved. Continue to mix while pouring the remainder of your water (about 1.5 cups). To make a latte, use warm milk instead of water. Add honey for a little sweetness and an additioal antioxidant boost 😉

Verdict: Worth the hype. The benefits of green tea have been proven time and time again, and this potent form is appearing in a myriad of different forms from iced lattes to macaroons to ice cream so anyone can enjoy the radical busting properties of Matcha. Enjoy!

Collagen


Source

From my favorite drink in this post to my least favorite, collagen. Not only a building block of hair, skin, nails and cell membranes, collagen can now be added to your morning coffee! Collagen claims to be an anti-inflammatory, metabolism boosting, digestion improving, cellulite reducing, wrinkle removing energy boost.

Ok. Hold the phone. HOW.

Let's break this down. Starting with the basics. Collagen is a peptide, a protein, made of up a sequence of amino acids. These proteins are broken down into amino acids just like the protein in your morning scrambled eggs. Protein, a basic macronutrient, is used for energy in the body. What I am very curious about however, is how the amino acids from collagen are able to affect your skin, hair, gut, cellulite any differently than the protein from your morning eggs. Someone pleaaase help me understand. Collagen hydrolysate (hydrolyzed collagen) is popping up all over social media and its users swear by the benefits.

Verdict: I'm looking forward to learning more when concrete research is published on the matter. Until then, my coffee remains un-collagenized 😉

Turmeric

And finally, Turmeric. Turmeric entered the Walker-Riise household this weekend, and safe to say, no one is too stoked about our little addition. But we ARE stoked about THIS adorable little addition:

Why so cute. Unfortunately we're just dog sitting our little furry friend but he's doing a great job confirming my ever growing puppy-fever  <3

Anyway, back to the un-welcomed guest.

I bought a bag of turmeric after seeing countless posts on Instagram from my favorite health bloggers. Golden tea, or Golden Milk is popping up everywhere rejoicing it's supposed anti-inflammatory properties, and it was time to give this one a go.

Stepping dangerously close to alternative medicine here, I began researching the hype behind this so-called miracle root. After skimming through various sources, I stumbled upon this one from the Journal of Medical Chemistry, which highlighted just about every benefit of turmeric and explaining the possible scientific background of each.

To summarize, turmeric isn't entirely undeserving of a hype, but it's not going to cure IBS either. Curcumin, the active compound of turmeric, has a unique ability to make slight changes in gut microbiota (the natural bacteria in your gut). This could help relieve symptoms of bowel irritation or indigestion. Since our gut constitutes a great proportion of our immune system, it's important to keep these bacteria healthy and in good balance. The gut-pleasing benefits of turmeric most likely lie in the bacteria altering properties of the spice. Some evidence in rats suggests anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, but human trials have yet to be studied. Additionally, the low bioavailability, gives turmeric a less than stellar case for it's ability to actually make any sound difference in anything other than a minute change in gut bacteria. The digestion aid could easily be attributed to the increased motility of the bowel, just like any other spicy food.

Verdict: Neutral. While there is limited evidence supporting each of the claimed benefits, it doesn't mean you should toss your tub in the bin and give up on the curried goods. Some swear a turmeric tea helps with their digestion, and if that's the case, who needs an article in The Lancet to back you up? (Pun intended 😉 ) I am eagerly looking forward to more research on the root, but until then, I think I'll be keeping my milk white for now 😉

If you're interested in making a Golden Latte, here's a simple recipe. (But then again mine wasn't that good so I recommend searching for another. I simply compiled the popular themes of each recipe.)

Put about 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp ground ginger (I used fresh), a dash of cinnamon and pepper into a cup. I've read in numerous places that pepper supposedly increases the absorption of the turmeric, so I went with it.

Heat about one cup of almond milk (or milk or any other milk alternative) in the microwave until warm. Pour over the spice mixture blending constantly.

At this point I was too curious to try the gold so I went for a taste test.

Woops. Forgot the sweetener. Definitely add honey, sugar, stevia... SOMETHING because without sweetener this stuff tastes like feet.

I had a first impressions session on my Snapchat :

To be honest even with the honey it tasted pretty gnarly, but it was worth a try. Turmeric is a spice used in curry and it just tasted ...confusing.

All in all, the best way to make the most of your diet is the ever old tale of a varied diet and exercise. Not everything you eat needs to be a superfood to remain healthy. If you don't enjoy it, don't force yourself to gulp down liquid curry because it might help reduce inflammation in your body. Truth be told, if you're otherwise healthy, you don't have any considerable inflammation in your body to worry about anyway.

Happy eating my friends! And don't forget to post everything healthy you eat on Instagram. Otherwise, it doesn't count.

Cheers!

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Disclaimer: Statements on this blog should not be taken as medical advice. This blog expresses my personal views and opinions only.  Always consult your physician or health care professional before starting any health and wellness program.

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