July 17, 2012

Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated in heat


---- — Water is essential throughout the year, but during hot summer days, it is important to drink it often to remain hydrated. 

Of course, other beverages and even some foods can help you stay hydrated, but every day we should all drink some water. 

Other beverages — even healthy ones, such as low-fat milk or 100 percent juices — should be enjoyed in moderation . Unlike the calories we eat, most calories we drink do not lead to a feeling of fullness. Drinking too much of any beverage can add excess calories to your diet, and if those calories aren’t burned, they become added pounds. This is easy to understand when you consider that a 12 ounce can of cola contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar. 


Diet beverages can certainly help reduce calories in a person’s diet. Although many people are concerned with the safety of artificial sweeteners, they are thoroughly tested by the Food and Drug Administration. 

However, some recent studies have linked diet beverages to weight gain, which is puzzling when you consider that they don’t contain calories. It seems that when people drink or eat sweetened things, our bodies crave more sweetened things. The diet beverage would not lead to weight gain, but it could lead you to eat a sweetened food that will add excess calories to your diet. Many foods and drinks in our society are sweetened, so we have come to expect a level of sweetness or flavor. This is why I assume so many people tell me they do not like water or they think it is boring. 


By using fruits, vegetables and some herbs, you can liven up a glass of plain water. This is great for people who have grown accustomed to sweetened, flavored beverages as well as for water drinkers who are looking for a change on a hot day. The amount of juice released from the fruit or vegetable will be small, and it will not add much, if any, sugar to the water. If you eat the fruit after, however, it will count toward the daily recommended amount of fruit you should eat. The fiber it contains will also be filling, making it a great alternative to even 100 percent juice options. Try using seltzer water instead of plain water if you would like a bubbly drink.

Try adding berries, citrus slices, grapes, cucumber slices, pineapple chunks, stone fruit slices or mint sprigs. These options can be used fresh or frozen. Lemon wedges may seem obvious for flavoring water, but any citrus — even orange or grapefruit — tastes refreshing when added to water. Freezing some fruit, such as blueberries, will help release the juice and keep your drink colder. You may even want to add fruit to your ice cube tray the next time you are making ice for more flavorful and colorful cubes. If you enjoy mint, it can easily be grown in a small container on a windowsill.

Water is always essential, but be sure to drink extra on hot days as well as during and after exercising. Instead of turning to sweetened beverages like sports drinks, juices or soda, try flavoring your own water. Not only will you find great flavor, but it also has visual appeal that you just cannot buy in a bottle.