The temperatures are rising and staying hydrated isn’t just essential, it’s “in”. It’s cool to talk about how much we drink and our liquid containers are becoming as much a statement as our bags or sunglasses. Everywhere you look you see someone carrying the latest style water bottle. Every diet speaks about hydration. Every beauty regime mentions hydration. Let’s take a look at our options.
There are so many options for hydration in general and almost as many that target hydration, including additives such as electrolytes, that I felt the need to look at all options. Not all of us need a drink that supplies electrolytes or other additives to stay hydrated. 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.
Water still seems to be the number one favorite for filling the bottle, but if you look a little closer there are many water options. There are benefits of water in all forms. There are waters you can buy and there is plain pure water. A new trend is making 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!
6 cups chilled still spring or mineral water
12 thin slices cucumber
4 thin slices lemon
4 sprigs (each 2 in. long) fresh mint, slightly crushed
2 sprigs (each 2 in. long) fresh rosemary, slightly crushed
The market is flooded with fizzy waters. There is a common confusion about carbonated water versus club soda and mineral water and tonic water. All have benefits, the main one being any one of them adds to our daily intake of liquid recommended for staying hydrated. Others include health benefits for our bones and heart. One study in 18 postmenopausal women showed that drinking sodium-rich carbonated water decreased “bad” LDL cholesterol, inflammatory markers and blood sugar.
Mineral waters such as San Pellegrino® or Perrier® have the benefit of supplying minerals that might not be in tap water. Both carbonated and mineral waters go through processes before being dispersed. The process 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. Mineral water contains minerals that are beneficial to all of us. Some of the beneficial minerals include magnesium and calcium, both of which contribute to stronger bones.
Flavored bottled waters are another type of water. There are also many brands of bottled flavored water. Some flavored waters are just that-flavored water. Most, however, are made with artificial sweeteners, and some with one of the many forms of sugar, so you need to be careful about calorie intake. These sweetened waters can contain other substances such as vitamins and minerals and 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, but if you are choosing not to drink them because of their historically perceived bad reputation you might want to rethink, especially if you’re having a hard time meeting the minimum standard.
Fruit juices are plentiful, also. Reading the label with these types of drinks is imperative. Check to see what the added sweeteners are and how much actual fruit juice is in your drink. Sunny Delight®, for example, is only a two percent juice, and 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 sugar in all forms; a little goes a long way.
Alternatively, by keeping a pitcher of filtered water in the fridge, you can use a 50/50 juice/water mix, which means getting more water, itself, into your daily hydration totals, plus saves a ton of sugar calories. This easy trick 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 very refreshing in the summer, especially.
Don’t forget, you can always make fruit-cicles 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 use, people use it to replace electrolytes lost during strenuous or prolonged exercise. They may also use it after a bout of stomach virus or another dehydrating illness. 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® marketed under the name G2. Regular G2 has half the amount of sugar as the original product, and G2 Zero has no sugar, substituting the artificial sweetener sucralose instead.
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 in a day, and may be linked to heart failure.
You can create your own sports drink at home by adding a supplement. At the top of some top ten lists of newer 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 commonly available product of the same type is Liquid I.V., which claims to provide three times the hydration of a single bottle of water when added to the bottle. It also has a similar mix of electrolytes as the Skratch products.
I’m a fan of Nuun® tablets because of their convenience and taste. I’ve been using them for several years to add necessary electrolytes to my water for drinking while participating in soccer, and other outdoor activities where staying hydrate is so important. There are many flavors of Nuun and they also come in versions with added benefits such as vitamins and stimulating products for energy, as well as helping to keep you hydrated.
Lifestyle and diet contribute greatly to hydration needs. There’s currently a lot of talk about Keto dieting, and along with that theories on what type of hydration is needed. There is information available that discusses the necessity for drinks with added electrolytes while on the keto diet because the diet is so restrictive.
Other diets can also affect our hydration adversely. Active lifestyles in hotter climates require more liquid intake with added electrolytes. Ultimately, it seems everyone agrees 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 can’t really go wrong. Choose your containers wisely. There are studies looking into potential hazards of plastic containers. Single walled metal bottles can be slippery with condensation. Double-walled metal bottles can keep your liquids warm or cold. Glass bottles are a win-win if you are careful with them, but a potential hazard. Find what works for you to stay hydrated and keep at it to stay healthy and feeling well.
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