One way to beat the heat this summer: Stay hydrated.
There's more than one way to do it.
The quickest way is to drink what you need. Old advice to drink eight glasses of water a day isn't completely accurate.
You may need more or less, depending upon your diet, the temperatures you're exposed to, and your activity level. When you're physically active outdoors on a hot day, for example, you need more fluid than when you're working indoors on a cooler day.
What's best to drink? Simple: water. Why?
Because it contain zero calories and is free of many of the additives - caffeine, artificial flavorings and colorings, and sweeteners - that diminish wholesomeness or, in the case of caffeine, may contribute to other problems such as sleep disturbances or rapid heart beat.
Any kind of water is fine - tap water, seltzer water and club soda. Don't bother with designer bottled waters containing added vitamins, minerals, or oxygen - they're expensive and don't live up to the benefits claimed.
Choose your liquid
Other kinds of fluids count, too. Among your choices:
Coffee and tea. Yes, with a few caveats, it's just fine to drink these regularly.
Avoid sweet tea, and choose decaf coffee and tea if you have difficulties tolerating caffeine.
Concerns about the dehydrating effects of caffeine are overblown. The water in beverages more than compensates for the little bit of fluid loss caused by caffeine.
Soft drinks. I'm not a fan, because they're filled with artificial everything. However, if you must, choose sugar-free varieties. The upside is that they do provide a fluid source at times when you may need one.
Fruit juices. They're high in calories, so dilute them with seltzer water instead of drinking them straight.
Sports drinks. There's some evidence that they may benefit elite athletes. That's not most of us, though, so drink sports drinks sparingly.
Save them for times when hydration is your top priority. Like many fruit drinks, sports drinks contain added sugar you are better off without.
Eat your hydration
You may be surprised to learn that beverages aren't the only source of fluid in your diet. In fact, fresh fruits and vegetables can satisfy up to half of your fluid needs.
The best choices are also rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. They include all of the summer favorites: melons, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, summer squash, blueberries, strawberries and grapes.
Cooking draws fluids out of foods, so eat them fresh for maximum hydration benefits. Other ways to increase your fluid intake from fruits and vegetables:
Blend them into smoothies. For example, process cold watermelon cubes with a few teaspoons of honey and a small amount of orange juice or other liquid as needed to make a slushy summer drink.
Use them to make cold soups. Spicy gazpacho is made with a variety of fresh veggies and tomatoes. Or for a cold fruit soup, process cantaloupe with nonfat plain or vanilla yogurt and enough orange juice to get the desired consistency. Add a dash of cinnamon on top for a garnish.
Make staying healthfully hydrated one of your diet goals this summer.
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