Ensure is a family of nutrition drinks that provides the body with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals per serving. The drink is ideal for people with deficiencies in nutrition, and for those who resort to liquids due to certain medical issues. However, Ensure is noted to have a sugar content of around 18 to 23 grams, which may be too much especially when the drink is consumed on a daily basis. It also has sodium, and an excess of it can elevate blood pressure and trigger cardiovascular diseases.
And let’s not forget the chemicals, additives, preservatives, and artificial colors and flavors included in the concoction.
Healthier options are available that can be used as an alternative to Ensure. These drinks are easy to make, chock full of health benefits, free from harmful ingredients, and do not pose any risk of side effects. Make sure that you always choose the organic options, and do not rely on canned varieties or “fresh” juices but are full of weird names in the ingredients list:
1. Beet Juice – Beetroot is usually boiled or roasted, and eaten as is or added to other dishes. Its juice form has become another choice in consuming the vegetable to reap its rich vitamin and mineral content, and amazing health benefits namely:
- Betalain, the pigment that gives beet its deep red hue, is known as a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that destroys harmful free radicals and fungi, relieves and prevents inflammation, and even has the potential of having anti-cancer properties.
- Beet contains vitamins A, C, K, and minerals calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, silica, and sulfur.
- The oxalic acid in the vegetable works by dissolving inorganic calcium in your body, which are noted to be the source of diseases caused by calcification like arthritis, ocular problems, and varicose veins, to name a few.
- Lutein and zeaxanthin carotenoids in beet help in maintaining eye health and preventing macular degeneration. One significant advantage of drinking raw beet juice is that you can get the maximum amount of these carotenoids, as cooking the vegetable destroys them both.
- The compound betaine in beet ensures proper function of the bile ducts and liver, and protects them from damage. Betaine also reduces the amount of homocysteine in the body, wherein high amounts of it contribute to the increasing risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Take note that, when regularly consuming beet, your bowel movement and urine may turn red. Do not be alarmed as this is entirely normal due to the vegetable’s color.
2. Black Tea – Better known as red tea in some Asian regions, black tea is noted to have a stronger taste compared to the other types of tea that are less oxidized (green, oolong, white). Some people make it a habit of drinking black tea instead of coffee for their morning routine, and you should too so you can enjoy its effects on your health:
- A study published on May 2009 at the journal Stroke revealed that the regular consumption of black tea, around three cups on a daily basis, has the potential of preventing ischemic stroke.
- Antioxidant polyphenols in the tea destroy bacteria that linger in the oral regions, and toxins in other parts of the body that contribute to the formation of cancer cells and signs of aging, and prevent certain diseases. The antioxidants also help in enhancing metabolism that helps the body burn fat, perfect for people who seek to lose weight.
- Yonsei Medical Journal had a published research in February 2009 where elderly residents in several Mediterranean countries who regularly consumed black tea have shown a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This is due to the tea’s polysaccharide content that slow down the absorption of blood sugar. The benefit also helps those who already have diabetes.
- Tannins in black tea relieve digestive distress and, coupled with the tea’s alkylamine antigen content, enhances the immune system.
- Black tea has a low caffeine amount that effectively stimulates the brain and other important organs without the negative effects experienced afterwards, like irritability and insomnia.
3. Blueberry Juice – Delicious and nutritious, blueberries are enjoyed by many as a snack or as a health drink. It is better to buy the fruit and juice it yourself instead of purchasing “fresh” blueberry juice that may be mixed with chemicals. Here’s what you get when you drink blueberry juice:
- Its rich vitamin C content maintains the integrity of your bones, teeth, and tissues. It also assists in the production of collagen, an important protein that keeps the blood vessels, cartilage, ligaments, and skin healthy.
- Anthocyanins, or the phytochemical responsible for the fruit’s color, are antioxidants. Along with its A, C, and E vitamins, blueberry protects the body against free radicals. Anthocyanins also reduce the levels of blood pressure and minimize the risk of heart attack and stroke.
- The blueberry’s pulp is rich in dietary fiber that is important in maintaining a healthy digestive system, and leaving a feeling of fullness that prevents overeating or craving. Blueberry juice sold in the market are devoid of pulps, and that means it has no dietary fiber in it. When you juice blueberry by yourself, toss in some of the pulp into the mix so you can have an adequate amount of fiber when you gulp it down.
4. Cabbage Juice – This might sound strange to the unfamiliar, but cabbage juice is chock full of healthy goodness in each serving, with a focus on the digestive system. The bitter taste may be a turn off, but its benefits will surely appeal to everyone:
- Raw cabbage juice contains chemical compounds called isocyanates. These group of compounds accelerate the metabolism of estrogen, leading to a reduced risk of certain cancers and is also purported to enhance the recovery of cancer patients.
- Chlorine and sulfur in the vegetable remedies intestinal and colon inflammation and diseases, and cleanses the bowels. Be warned though as you will emit a foul-smelling gas, signifying that the juice has accomplished this particular purpose. The juice also facilitates food digestion and bowel movement.
- Cabbage has vitamin U, or also known as cabbagens, that bolster the stomach’s inner layer, making it more resilient against
- The folic acid content of cabbage contributes to the production of fresh blood cells, which is important for patients who suffer from anemia.
- A serving of cabbage juice derived from a small head gives vitamins B6, C, and K, and minerals calcium, folate, iron, manganese, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, selenium, and thiamin.
Cabbage juice is best consumed immediately after preparation, as letting it sit for a long time can weaken some of its fragile amino acids.
5. Carrot Juice – One of the most widely used vegetables in a global scale, carrots are known to be the best sources of vitamin A. The vegetable also provides some amounts of vitamins K, C, B6 and E, and minerals calcium, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, and zinc. Its benefits are:
- Its immense beta carotene (or carrot’s form of vitamin A) content works hand in hand with eye health nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin to protect from macular degeneration and maintain visual acuity regardless of age. Another benefit of beta carotene is that it improves the body’s ability to heal wounds and enhances overall skin health.
- Carotenoids are pigments that give the carrot its orange color, and is also a potent antioxidant. Other antioxidants in carrot include beta carotene, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, and lycopene. These antioxidants also lower cholesterol levels and decrease cardiovascular disease and cancer risks.
- Regular consumption of carrot juice maintains cognitive acuity and shields it from degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, by lowering the amount of oxidative stress that tend to pent-up in the brain.
- Vitamin C maintains proper oral health, vitamin K facilitates the recovery of broken bones, and potassium improves overall bone health.
- The juice purifies the liver, eliminating harmful bile and toxins which are excreted after drinking one serving of carrot juice.
6. Cranberry Juice – Cranberries are popular for having an immense amount of antioxidants that outrank many other fruit and vegetable sources, making it a powerful fruit against aging, free radicals, and inflammation. It also contains vitamins C, K, B-6, and E, and minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc. Some of its benefits are:
- Proanthocyanidins found in cranberries prevent bacteria from clinging to the cells on the bladder that result in urinary tract infections (UTI). Drinking cranberry juice helps prevent the occurrence of UTI by flushing out bacteria before they build up. However, the juice does not work as treatment for patients who are already infected, making it only effective for prevention. Bacteria in the teeth that cause cavities are also prevented by proanthocyanidins.
- Polyphenolic compounds and salicylic acids in cranberries help reduce the risk of developing tumors and blood clots, as supported by a study published on June 2004 at the Journal of Nutrition.
- Flavonoids in the fruit maintain proper cardiovascular health and prevent cholesterol and fat build-up that can lead to heart attack or stroke. These flavonoids also fight off bacteria that trigger stomach disorders such as peptic ulcers.
- Organic acids help break down excess body fat and impede the formation of kidney stones.
7. Green Tea – This immensely healthy drink has an origin that dates back to ancient China. Throughout history, people have enjoyed the health benefits green tea gives in each serving:
- Powerful antioxidants such as catechins and flavonoids are found in green tea, with epigallocatechin gallate being the most powerful among all of its antioxidant compounds. This solidifies the drink’s anti-cancer and anti-bacterial reputation, as backed up by numerous studies. However, mixing green tea with milk has the tendency of reducing the amount of antioxidants, making the drink weaker.
- Trace amounts of caffeine give green tea the ability to boost energy, backed up by l-theanine that increases anti-anxiety GABA neurotransmitters. These two work well in enhancing brain function while fighting off stress. Green tea also builds up the brain’s resistance against age-related cognitive degeneration.
- Green tea boosts the body’s metabolic rate, leading to better fat burning capabilities. It also wards off cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes.
8. Pineapple Juice – A refreshing fruit drink that packs a healthy punch with its nutritional content. Bromelain, a potent extract with many beneficial properties, is only found in pineapple. And you’ll want to have a pineapple juice once you learn the things the fruit can do for your body:
- Bromelain exhibits anti-inflammatory capabilities, making pineapple a good remedy for sports injuries. It can also suppress cancer cell growth, which is further enhanced by pineapple’s beta carotene content. The fruit also has manganese, another antioxidant mineral that prevents the signs of aging caused by free radicals.
- Vitamin C makes the skin healthier and protects its cells from toxins that come from environmental sources. Unfortunately, canned pineapple juice has lower amounts of vitamin C, making the fresh juice option a lot more viable.
- Vitamin B6 improves circulation and helps the brain produce important chemicals that ensure overall body health.
9. Tomato Juice – The delectable red fruit is also given the title “super food” due to its immense health benefits, rich amounts of vitamins, minerals, compounds, and nutrients, and its content of the powerful antioxidant lycopene. Here are some of tomato’s medicinal powers:
- Studies conducted throughout many years have revealed lycopene’s anti-cancer properties, especially when in conjunction with tomato’s other antioxidants. A key nutrient of tomato is alpha-tomatine, known for its ability to prevent certain cancers through apoptosis, or the triggering of cancer cell death. Free radicals are also eliminated by these antioxidants.
- Fiber, folate, vitamins B3 and B6, and potassium prevent heart disease by eliminating homocystene, reducing cholesterol levels, and improving blood vessels. Fiber also ensures the proper function of the digestive and excretory systems.
- Tomato’s lutein, vitamin A, zeaxanthin, and copper content reduce the risk of problems in the eye while sharpening vision.
- Vitamin K maintains the health of both skin and hair, ensures proper growth and development, and protects them from damage.
- The low sodium and high fiber combination in tomato juice helps in weight loss as it leaves the body with a feeling of satisfaction and fullness. Drinking a glass prior to a meal ensures that you do not overeat.
- Vitamins A and C bolster the immune system, bones, and teeth. Antibody and white blood cell production is improved for better defense against diseases, while copper helps in improving the response time of these cells against harmful substances that invade the body.