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Being Healthy: Hydration

June 9, 2012

A factor that can be easily overlooked when embarking on a quest for better health is the fluids you consume.  If you are what you eat, are you also what you drink?

We all know that drinking water is good for us (and here is a blog post to read if you need a reminder). Yet with all of the available beverage choices, water can seem a bit boring.

So let’s discuss some of the other beverage choices.

There are some options that we know are unhealthy, such as soda.

Then, there are the drinks that are marketed as being good for us, such as vitamin-enhanced water, and the recently touted coconut water.

And just how bad is it to drink a cup of coffee in the morning?

Trying to drink healthy can be kind of confusing!

Let’s start with flavored waters. As was previously mentioned, drinking water is a good way to quench your thirst. So flavored water should be the best of both worlds, right? A healthy choice that’s not boring? Well…the problem is, flavored water is not always very healthy anymore. With the additives used to alter the drink’s taste come calories, and often, a large amount of sugar. So if you want to drink flavored water, make sure to check the label to ensure that you do not accidentally add another meal into your diet. (Also, avoid this flavored beverage.) Or add some natural flavoring to your water, yourself. Slices of citrus and/or fruit are always a nice addition. Some people like to add herbs to their water, such as mint and lemongrass.

Smoothies can present the same problem as bottled flavored water: a seemingly healthy drink, a lot of smoothies have hidden foibles (did you know bananas are high in sugar?). If you are craving a flavorful frozen treat, check out this blog for some suggestions on how to make your own smoothie, using healthier alternatives.

Then, there is coconut water. Coconut water is essentially water (and not to be confused with coconut milk, which contains a lot of calories and saturated fat). It does contain potassium and antioxidants, but is actually not what you want to drink after a heavy-duty workout (because it does not replace the sodium that you have lost via sweating). Interested in learning more about coconut water? Click here for a quick, fact-filled slideshow.

In certain amounts, coffee actually is not that bad for you – so you don’t necessarily need to cut it out of your morning routine. In fact, it seems likely that coffee actually helps prevent some health problems, such as cancer and diabetes (for more information, click here). You do need to be careful about adding heavy amounts of sugar and cream, however, as both of these additives possess calories. It is also important to limit caffeine intake, which can result in an upset stomach and/or insomnia.

To wrap up, water is great. It provides everything your body needs in terms of hydration. It’s inexpensive, and you should try to make the majority of your beverage consumption water. It is also a great choice because it does not involve consuming extra calories, and you should aim to make your nutrient intake result primarily from making healthy food choices.

According to the beverage guidelines recommended by experts, water should make up the majority of your drink intake (at least half of your fluid consumption). Then, with respect to drinks that will be consumed, the amount from most to least should be as follows:

  • tea or coffee (up to 3 or 4 cups a day)
  • milk (low fat, skim or soy)
  • artificially sweetened beverages
  • caloric beverages with some nutrients (includes juice and vitamin-enhanced water)
  • calorically sweetened beverages (such as soda and lemonade)
Make sure to keep these guidelines in mind when making future drink selections.

Have a healthy beverage recommendation and/or comment not mentioned in the blog? Please share it in the comments below!

From → Eating Healthy

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