The Very Wide World of Beverages


We discussed kombucha and touched on kvass, which originated in Eastern Europe, a product of the fermentation process as it takes place in carrots and beets. Various recipes also call for salt, lime, or lemon. Kvass is said to cleanse the liver and aid digestion and elimination.

It has a reputation as a tonic that fortifies the blood, and has even been credited with treating kidney stones. Today, it is served in establishments where young employed people hang out in the evenings, giving them something to drink that does not interfere with their ability to work the next day.

Kefir is kind of like liquid yogurt, but with beneficent yeast as well as probiotic bacteria. says it can be made from the milk of cows, goats, sheep, coconuts, soy, or rice; and goes on to describe the “grains” from which it is grown.

The grains ferment the milk, incorporating their friendly organisms to create the cultured product. The grains are then removed with a strainer before consumption of the kefir and added to a new batch of milk.

A great advantage of fermented beverages is that children can help make them at home, and it has been observed that kids like to eat things they have a hand in growing. Unfortunately, DIY beverage fermentation, healthful though it is, requires a relatively big investment of time and other resources. The commercial products are not cheap either, and no parent should feel guilty if they can’t afford niche beverages. A parent who fills the kids’ bottles with water, and encourages them to drink it, is doing a good job.

Philosophical differences

In the present day, water is claimed to be enhanced in sundry ways, and with varying degrees of credibility. One way to improve ordinary water is to tweak it until the perfect pH balance is achieved. It is tempting to wonder about the possibilities for a better life through functional beverages.

It is equally tempting to say, “Bah, humbug, water was good enough for our remote ancestors. It should be good enough for us.” Arguments can be made either way.

And yet another beverage category

Coke brags about how it “sparked the surging ready-to-drink coffee business in Japan,” to the point where, in 2015, the Japanese consumed 462,000 tons of coffee. Witt Wells says:

One of the biggest successes that the company has seen over the last few decades is the explosion of the ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee business… As rapid industrialization met with the expanding vending machine business, blue-collar workers saw to-go coffee as the perfect pick-me-up in the middle of a hard day’s work.

After a busy day of chugging down multiple cans of caffeinated beverages, the overachieving salaryman needs a different product to help him sleep, and the corporation stands ready to supply it, and to reap the rewards. Last month, Sleep Review (the “Journal for Sleep Specialists”) reviewed another Coke product — “Glaceau Sleep Water.”

It features peach flavoring, and “a special ingredient considered important for ensuring a restful night’s sleep: L-Theanine.” Nature brings us this amino acid in tea, and it is said to alleviate stress and anxiety, while promoting sleep.

Japan is also the pioneer in adopting FOSHU drinks. That acronym stands for Food Of Specified Health Use. For example, Coca-Cola Plus contains five grams of dietary fiber and no calories. The advertising claim is that it helps to suppress fat absorption, and to moderate the blood levels of triglycerides.

Or a person could stir some ground psyllium husk into a glass of water, and save a lot of money. But then they might experience FOSHU FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out on a fancily-branded Food Of Specified Health Use.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “How Coca-Cola Sparked the Surging Ready-to-Drink Coffee Business in Japan,”, 06/14/17
Source: “New ‘Sleep Water’ from Coca Cola Japan Promises to Help You Drift Off, Wake Up Refreshed,”, 05/26/17
Source: “Coca-Cola With Dietary Fiber to Launch in Japan,”, 02/10/17
Photo credit: Dennis van Zuijlekom via Visualhunt/CC BY-SA

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

Food & Health Resources