As the summer heat hits its peak, it’s especially important to stay hydrated. Whether you’re outside running around or relaxing enjoying the sun, your body will perspire more when it’s warm, meaning you should pay extra attention to the amount - and type - of fluids you’re drinking.
“Don’t wait for your body to tell you when you need to drink. If you’re thirsty, you already have less water than you should. Try to drink 4-6 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes or so to keep your muscles hydrated,” recommends Jackie Darcangelo, RD, CDN, a registered dietician at Newark-Wayne Community Hospital.
When you’re keeping yourself hydrated, what are the best fluids to drink? Darcangelo provides some do’s and don’ts when it comes to quenching your thirst.
It’s no surprise that drinking water is the best way to stay hydrated. Water is very effective in keeping your muscles and brain energized and healthy during physical activity. Not drinking enough water can actually impair brain function, impact mood, and lower levels of concentration.
Although it may lead to bloating, sparkling water provides the same hydrating benefits as tap water. However, while running around or playing sports it may be best to avoid bubbly water as it can cause an upset stomach.
“It’s okay to drink sparkling or carbonated water instead of tap water," Darcangelo said. "Make sure that whichever water you choose to drink is the one you will drink the most of!”
Although water is a great way to keep your body up to speed, other drinks can have the same benefits while providing some additional help.
Sports drinks, such as Gatorade, Powerade, and Bodyarmor, can provide added energy, especially during physical activity. Their ingredients, such as electrolytes, are meant to quickly replace fluids and increase sugar levels within your blood circulation.
“Remember, added sugars aren’t always good," Darcangelo said. "While sports drinks are okay once in a while, you should consume them in conjunction with plain water.”
Fitness waters, like Propel, are flavored waters that contain added vitamins and minerals that are supposed to supplement a healthy diet. However, they don’t work to replace what is lost during exercise.
While they contain more sugar than plain water, fitness waters generally have much less sugar than sports drinks, making them a better option for many - especially those who do not exercise regularly.
“If these types of water make you sip more often, definitely drink them. Just be sure to choose brands that have little-to-no added sugars.”
Although they're not liquid, most fruits contain a good amount of water. Watermelon is approximately 90 percent water, and other fruits like grapefruit, strawberries, cantaloupe, and oranges are also high in water.
Fruit juices with no added sugars are a good way to hydrate - but not 100 percent of the time. Be sure to limit your intake of fruit juices. The amount of natural sugar in pure fruit juice can still cause issues in high amounts.
”Many fruit juices are high in antioxidants, like cherry juice and grape juice, and can reduce inflammation helping your muscles recover," Darcangelo said.
Another way to increase hydration is with fruit-infused water. Slicing up a few lemons or cucumbers into your water can help improve flavor and keep you sipping more frequently.
Just because something is liquid, does not mean it has the ability to keep you hydrated. Darcangelo warns of these beverages that can worsen dehydration:
“The best practice is: when you’re thirsty, drink water. Keep yourself hydrated and healthy by consuming water regularly throughout the day.”
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