What to Drink on the Paleo Diet

JugWhat to eat on a Paleolithic diet is made very clear by proponents of the diet: lean meat, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds with the exclusion of dairy, sugars, legumes, processed foods, and grains.  Little attention, however, is given to what you should drink on the paleo diet.  Since all people need to stay hydrated, knowing what is or is not healthy to drink should be given some consideration.

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Water is the ultimate drink while on a paleo diet.  It provides the hydration your body needs while avoiding excess calories and loading your body with unhealthy sugars and calories.  Human bodies are made up of 60 percent water and according to the Mayo Clinic, “Every system in your body depends on water.”  Dehydrating, a result of not drinking enough water, can prevent your body from performing its natural, daily functions.  The Mayo Clinic suggests that women drink nine cups and men drink up to 13 cups of water daily.  Filter your water so that you do not consume chlorine or other toxins found in tap water.

Coffee is often debated in the paleo community.  While some don’t find much wrong with coffee, others believe that the diet prevents their necessity by stabilizing blood sugar and thereby increasing energy levels.  If you decide to drink coffee on the paleo diet, do so moderately and without added creams or sugars.  And, many proponents of decreasing caffeine intake suggest simply stopping your coffee habit for a while to see how you feel.  Many coffee drinkers have their morning brew without thinking, mindlessly pouring cup after cup.  Take away the coffee for at least a month to see if you really do need it.  Herbal teas, such as chamomile tea, are acceptable on the paleo diet.

If you feel like you would like to drink fruit juice, the juice needs to be freshly juiced or squeezed from whole, fresh fruit.  Store-bought juice is almost always pasteurized, or highly heated to kill any bacteria that may be swimming in the juice.  Pasteurizing, while keeping you from ingesting bad bacteria, kills most, if not all, the nutritional benefits of drinking juice.  Even freshly squeezed juice is void of all the beneficial fiber of whole fruits and vegetables.  If you want to drink something other than water for a change of taste, simply blend up a fruit smoothie to drink with breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

All sodas and sweetened drinks, including sports drinks, are avoided while on a paleo diet.  Many of these drinks either contain pure sugar or artificial sweeteners that are often known carcinogens.  These drinks may contribute to obesity and may be neurotoxins that, in large quantities, can affect the functioning of your brain.  Even drinks that are sweetened only with Stevia should be had only in moderation, as Stevia could affect insulin levels and cause diarrhea for some.

Milk, as well as all other dairy products, should not be consumed. Milk cows, particularly conventionally farmed dairy cows, are pumped full of synthetic hormones and antibiotics.  These chemicals will enter your body if you consume the dairy cow’s milk. Even if your milk comes from a grass-fed, organically-raised cow, other problems with milk include its link to some cancers and acne.  Yet, some paleo dieters allow for the consumption of raw milk.  Paleo devotees such as Mark Sisson and Neely Quinn argue that raw, whole-fat milk may have anti-cancer and anti-acne properties for some.  If you find raw milk beneficial, you may decide to include it in your paleo diet.

If you decide to partake in alcohol consumption, choosing agave tequila or red wine over beer or other sugary drinks is your best bet.  Most paleo enthusiasts do not encourage drinking, but some say that agave tequila mixed with fresh lime juice, ice, and maybe some carbonated water is a fine drink on rare occasions.  Tequila is starch and gluten-free, so it is often considered the best alcohol to consume on a paleo diet.  Other beverages may be gluten-free, such as vodka and gin, so those may be consumed on occasion.

When you get thirsty and are trying to maintain a Paleolithic diet, grab some water.  If you feel you need extra electrolytes after a workout or athletic event, twist some lemon juice into your water.  All other drinks should be limited, and in some cases, avoided altogether for optimal health.

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