The temperatures are rising, and staying hydrated isn’t just essential; it’s “in.” It’s cool to talk about how much water we drink, and our liquid containers are becoming as much a statement item as our bags or sunglasses. Everywhere you look, you see someone carrying the latest style of water bottle. Every diet speaks about hydration. Every beauty regime mentions hydration. So, let’s take a look at our options.
There are so many options for hydration in general, including drinks with additives such as electrolytes and vitamins, that I felt the need to look at all choices. Not all of us need a drink that supplies electrolytes or other additives to stay hydrated, and many of us are just looking to meet our daily suggested standard of eight glasses of eight ounces of liquid a day. This is frequently referred to as the 8 x 8 rule.
When filling your water bottle, straight water still seems to be the number one favorite. However, there are many water options, including items you can buy and just plain pure water. Then there’s always the trend to turn plain water into “spa water” by adding citrus and herbs. This gives flavor and adds a little pizazz, plus you can make this at home using this easy recipe:
The market is flooded with fizzy waters. There is common confusion about carbonated water versus club soda, mineral water, and tonic water. All have benefits, particularly that each of them adds to our daily fluid intake. They can also have health benefits for our bones and heart. For example, one study of 18 postmenopausal women showed that drinking sodium-rich carbonated water decreased “bad” LDL cholesterol, inflammatory markers, and blood sugar.
Mineral waters like San Pellegrino® or Perrier® have the advantage of supplying minerals that might not be in tap water. Both carbonated and mineral waters go through processes before being dispersed, and it’s that process that determines the name. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), mineral water must contain at least 250 parts per million of total dissolved solids. It also contains minerals that are beneficial to all of us, including magnesium and calcium, both of which contribute to stronger bones.
There are also many varieties of flavored bottled water. Some flavored waters are just that-flavored water without any additives or extras. Most, however, are made with artificial sweeteners, and some still contain a form of sugar, so you need to be mindful about calorie intake. These sweetened waters can also contain other substances like vitamins and minerals or stimulants.
Over the years, coffee and tea have gotten a bad rap. It was thought that because the caffeine acted as a diuretic that the fluid did not “count” towards the suggested amount of necessary hydration. On the contrary, liquid is liquid. It does count towards our fluid totals and has the added benefit of being a pick-me-up. Tea and coffee also have antioxidant benefits. These drinks should not be the main part of your liquid intake. If you still choose not to drink them because of their historically perceived bad reputation, you might want to rethink that decision, especially if you’re having a hard time meeting the minimum standard.
There’s a wide variety of fruit juices available on the market, but reading the label with these types of drinks is imperative. Check to see if there are any added sweeteners and how much actual fruit juice is in your drink. Sunny Delight®, for example, has only two percent juice and is filled with high fructose corn syrup. Regular orange juice has just as much sugar but in the naturally occurring form of fructose. Be careful of the amount of sugar in all forms; a little goes a long way.
If you still love fruit juice but want to keep the amount of sugar down, consider keeping a pitcher of filtered water in the fridge so that you can use a 50/50 juice/water mix. This allows you to get more water into your daily routine, all while saving a ton of sugar calories. This easy trick is vital if you’re on a special diet and love juices or are trying to find a way to get more water into your diet and can’t have or don’t like the other options listed. It’s especially refreshing in the summer!
Don’t forget, you can always make fruitcicles in the summer as another trick to increase your hydration levels via a sweet snack (add yogurt for another immune-system-boosting bonus)!
One product we’ve all heard about is Gatorade®, the original “go-to” sports drink. Developed in 1965 by doctors at the University of Florida Medical Center for their athletes to use, people use it to replace electrolytes lost during strenuous or prolonged exercise. They may also use it after a bout of stomach flu or another dehydrating illness. However, it’s gotten a bad reputation lately because of its sugar content.
To combat that there are now low and no-sugar versions of Gatorade available to help you stay hydrated. Regular G2 has half the amount of sugar as the original product, and Gatorade Zero has no sugar, substituting the artificial sweetener sucralose instead. Powerade has also joined the low to no sugar drink market with their product Powerade Zero.
Since the success of Gatorade, many other companies have jumped on the bandwagon. Some brands have added caffeine or vitamins that have a stimulating effect. Be especially careful with drinks such as Red Bull®, Rockstar®, or other products that bill themselves as “energy drinks.” Even people in good health can have an adverse reaction to drinking several of these per day, and drinking an excessive amount of them might be linked to heart failure.
You can create your own sports drink at home by adding a supplement. One of the most popular hydration products is Skratch Lab Hydration®. It’s a powder that can be added to your water bottle or water bladder that contains sodium, magnesium, potassium, and other minerals. Another similar option is Liquid I.V., which claims to provide three times the hydration of a single bottle of water when added to the bottle. It has a similar mix of electrolytes as the Skratch products.
Personally, I’m a fan of Nuun® tablets because of their convenience and taste. I’ve been using them for several years to add electrolytes to my water when playing soccer or participating in other outdoor activities where staying hydrated is important. There are many flavors of Nuun tablets, and they also have options with added benefits like vitamins and stimulating products to increase your energy.
Our lifestyle and diet contribute greatly to our personal hydration requirements, so what one person needs isn’t necessarily what another needs. There’s currently a lot of talk about Keto dieting, including all of the theories on what type and how much hydration is needed. There is information available that discusses the necessity for drinks with added electrolytes while on the keto diet because it is so restrictive.
Other diets can also affect our hydration, so it’s important to pay attention to how your body is reacting and determine if you need to increase your daily fluid intake. Active lifestyles, especially in hotter climates, require more fluids, and electrolytes are even more important in these situations. Ultimately, it seems everyone agrees that we need to stay hydrated in all kinds of weather and for a variety of reasons. The quandary is in the choice of hydration.
Choose what you like and you’ll be more likely to hit your goals. Choose plain water whenever possible, and you really can’t go wrong. Also, choose your containers wisely. For example, studies are looking into the potential hazards of plastic containers, so you’ll want to find one that is BPA-free. Single-walled metal bottles can be slippery with condensation, while double-walled metal bottles can keep your liquids warm or cold. Glass bottles are a win-win if you are careful with them but can also be a potential hazard. Find what works for you to stay hydrated and keep at it to stay healthy and feeling well.