Healthy Hydration

I heard that 2012 has been one of the warmest years on record. If you are living in one of the parts of the country that has seen temperatures in the nineties or hundreds, then this seems likely. Young or old, active or sedentary, indoors or out, you need to make hydration a top priority when the mercury rises that high. Of course, where there is a potential problem, there is an industry to try to provide a solution–no doubt the beverage industry has many suggestions when it comes to hydrating. Let’s take a look at them and see how they measure up…

Gatorade, PowerAde and the Like…

Parents often ask me what I think of these sports drinks. To begin, I remind them that it is generally unnecessary to consume them unless a person is truly exerting themselves or dealing with very high temperatures. Looking at the nutrition label, an 8 oz portion provides 50 calories, 14 grams of sugar, 110mg of sodium and pretty much nothing else, which is why they don’t earn Guiding Stars. In fact, since the first three ingredients on the products are water and two different forms of sugar, one has to wonder just how electrolyte-rich these beverages are. If you are engaged in a high-endurance activity or sport that requires a special sports drink or powder, please take the time to compare products and find the one that is truly a good choice for your body, but otherwise, consider hydrating with one of the other options suggested here.

A Favorite Breakfast Beverage
A Favorite Breakfast Beverage / Seth Anderson / CC BY 2.0

Coconut Water…

Coconut is so popular these days. While I have my concerns about the upswing in coconut milk and oil consumption, I love the idea of coconut water as a natural electrolyte source. This category has grown from one product to many, from plain to fruit-flavored. With most of the category earning two or three stars, these drinks provide the electrolytes you need (as well as protein and fiber) to replenish and prevent dehydration. Drink them as they are, mix them into your favorite smoothie or even add them to a popsicle recipe!

Fresh Fruit and Vegetables…

You probably haven’t thought about the water content of fresh produce, but there is a hydration benefit that comes from consuming fruits and vegetables throughout the day. I often write about aiming for a colorful diet, rich in deep color. While this remains true, I ironically prefer your less colorful produce for rehydrating. Consider cucumber, watermelon and even iceberg lettuce for their high water content. While these foods shouldn’t replace your other fluids, making them part of your meals and snacks is a good idea.

100% Fruit Juice…

Guiding Star-rated, 100% fruit juice is a good alternative to artificially sweetened drinks. However, I don’t recommend too much juice throughout the day as the sugar and calories can add up. That said, two ounces of juice mixed with seltzer or sparkling water is a refreshing way to hydrate without over doing it. Use this natural alternative in place of soda or other sugar-loaded drinks.

Iced Coffee or Tea…

Good news for those who drink caffeinated drinks. Caffeine is not dehydrating like it was once believed to be, as long as you don’t overdo it.  Of course, what you put into iced coffee or tea greatly affects the nutritional quality of the drink. Aim for non-fat milk and hold off on the sugar and you’ll have a replenishing afternoon drink.

Water…

Tried, true, simple and so very, very good for you. Drink water throughout the day and you are sure to stay well hydrated.

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