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Ask a Dietitian: Summer Drinks

by Nichole Hudon, RD/LD

Q: With the temperatures still being so high, is there anything I should do differently to stay hydrated?

A: It is most important to try to keep ahead of hydration as it is most difficult to catch up once you are behind. Begin your day with a nice glass of water before any caffeinated beverages to replace fluids lost during sleep. If you do not like plain water, try adding a low calorie packet of water flavoring or fresh fruit.

 As caffeine is a diuretic and increases fluid losses, remember to drink 1.5-2 cups of water for every 1 cup of coffee, tea or caffeinated soda. Keep good fluids coming in all through the day by carrying a water bottle or setting a reminder on your phone to alert you. By the time your body signals that it is thirsty, you are already far behind and trying to catch up all at once can be too hard on your system.

Good fluid choices include decaffeinated green or black tea, coconut water, skim milk, low calorie juices mixed with seltzer or club soda. Look for products without extra sugars and monitor serving sizes of juices and milk, especially if you are diabetic. Sports drinks can be a good option if you are going to be outside doing rigorous activity for an hour or more. Many of these drinks can be laden with sugar and are not a good idea for everyone, especially diabetics. There are several low calorie options available and may be more appropriate for those not spending excessive time outside or doing more rigorous activity.

Those with kidney disease or heart failure who are on certain medications that affect electrolytes (i.e. "water pills") should make sure it is ok with their physician to use such drinks as they are higher in potassium and sodium than should be consumed by some and should always be alternated with water so there is less potential for dangerous build-up of electrolytes. Diabetics should keep a closer eye on blood sugars when they spend more time outside and those with Congestive heart failure will need to weigh several times through the day.

Symptoms of dehydration can include headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, early fatigue, flushed skin, increased body temperature, higher pulse and labored breathing. One of the best ways to monitor hydration is the color of your urine. A popular saying is "if it's clear, you are in the clear”. Have a safe and well-hydrated remainder of the summer!

For nutritional counseling, Norman Regional Health System offers the guidance of registered dietitians. Those interested can schedule an appointment for an assessment with a referral from their family physician.

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