The Five Crazy New Health Elixirs to Try
Fruit juice? Too sugary. Celery smoothies? Bleh. Kale smoothies? Killing you. The old “tried and true” health drinks are growing old fast. Time to meet the new liquid gold.
These five health drinks have intriguing flavors that have gotten people talking. But aside from their charm, what do they actually do for you?
What is it? A healthy and beer-belly proof alternative to beer, Kombucha is a fizzy, fermented drink that comes bottled or on top. Think of it as a serious, alcohol-free thirst quencher for the summer, made of sugar and tea.
How do you have it?
Kristen Shanks, naturopath and owner of Orchand Street says,
It’s not uncommon for locals to mill around on a warm summer night with a cold kombucha in hand: “It’s incredibly popular on warm evenings – and tap kombucha is growing – both our North Bondi and Paddington stores [in Australia] have one.”
The health benefits? The main organ to thank you for drinking this is your gut. This is because Kombucha is packed with probiotics – great for maintaining the growth of good bacteria in our digestive system. But healthy gut aside, it also helps our immunity and mood – 60 per cent of our immune system is located within our gut and over 80 per cent of our serotonin is produced there.
The taste? Because of its fermented nature, Kombucha looks and tastes a lot like cider – it’s fizzy and light but has a more distinct tea flavour. You can also buy flavoured fusions with ingredients such as apple, ginger and lemon.
2. Maple water
What is it? Fresh from Canadian and American maple trees, maple water is the new hot paper carton craze soon to supersede coconut water.
Mel Lechte, general manager of Organic Avenue, a cold pressed juice store and a stockist of maple water in Sydney, says it’s a nice alternative to those who went a little too loco for coco.
“I was an obsessive coconut water drinker, but sometimes there’s only so much coconut water you can have. I noticed maple is a big trend in LA now and it also happens to be the most hydrating form of water you can get right now.”
How do you have it? Maple water is a yellow gold liquid that can be most commonly found in paper cartons or bottles for on-the-go sipping.
The health benefits? Organic Avenue’s in-house nutritionist Bannie Williams says,
“It’s low in sugar and a rich source of nutrients, including antioxidants, calcium and B group vitamins. Maple water can also assist the body with hydration by replacing electrolytes and stabilising energy levels.”
The taste? Not nearly as sweet as maple syrup, but more golden tasting than coconut, it’s a light, watery and refreshing on-the-go drink that won’t leave a tang in your mouth after.
To note: “As it’s in its infancy, there is little research to support the full benefits so be wary believing all the health benefits,” advises nutritionist Rachael Javes.
3. Charcoal water
What is it? Williams continues,
“Charcoal water is an alkaline water that’s been infused with charcoal derived from coconut shells.”
How do you have it? Straight up. Just like a green juice, charcoal water is usually made with a power combo of nutritional ingredients and drank straight from the bottle.
The health benefits?
“Charcoal is highly absorbent so it assists the body by removing toxins and helping cleanse the system,”
Lechte says to think of it like a flushing agent, naturally stripping the bad stuff from our gut – “We all have toxins – whether from preservatives, alcohol, so charcoal works by running through our body, grabbing onto them and flushing them out.”
“And it’s a known medicinal practise – if you drink too much and get alcohol poisoning or if you get food poisoning, they pump your stomach with charcoal. It can also then assist with increased nutrient absorption, a boosted immune system as well as improved energy.”
The taste? What you see is what you get. It’s black and tastes like, well, charcoal. But when mixed with lemon and other ingredients, it tends to blend in – minus the slight, after-taste texture on the tongue.
Note: Don’t consume if you’re on medication as it can strip all toxins (good and bad) from your body. It’s also not recommended for children under 12.
4. Beetroot juice
What is it? It’s been an athlete’s go-to for a while now, but the pink root veg – high in nitrate has gained a worthy reputation of recent, thanks to its proven record of medical benefits.
How do you have it? Available in pressed juice form or as a high concentrated shot, beetroot juice is best consumed as is or added as a secondary ingredient to a mixed juice.
The health benefits? Bodypass nutritionist Rachael Javes says,”Beetroot juice is incredible for your health. The naturally occurring nitrates in beetroot convert into nitric oxide in the body – which helps relax blood vessels and lower blood pressure.”
Beets have also been proven to help endurance athletes – with the University of the West of Scotland finding beetroot juice can boost physical performance in altitudes and the University of Exeter finding it can increase exercise stamina by up to 16 per cent.
The taste? Rich and earthy as you’d expect but when in concentrate form can be a lot sweeter. If you do choose to buy it in its natural state, tone it down by adding to a juice or smoothie for a less pungent taste.
What is it? A tonic straight from the US – traditionally drunk by colonial farmers and now favoured by hipsters, switchel is a combination of apple cider vinegar, ginger and a sweetener (usually molasses, maple syrup or brown sugar).
How do you have it? It’s only readily available in the US, however it’s just as easily made at home.
You can down it in a shot, but for the weaker stomached, popular uses include in salad dressings, stocks and marinades. Or it can be heated up in a saucepan and drank warm like a honey and lemon tea.
The health benefits? It’s not so much the drink itself, but the key nutrients found in its main ingredients. Apple cider vinegar balances pH levels, helps your gut, contains potassium rich electrolytes for regulating physical performance and ginger helps soothe and digest stomachs and eases inflammation and pain.
The taste? In one word – tart.
Make it: Combine four cups of water, 1/2 cup raw apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup raw honey and 2 tsp organic ginger powder or 2.5 tbs fresh grated ginger in a jar. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours then shake or stir before serving.