Julie Whittington, RD

Healthy tips from a Registered Dietitian

Important to hydrate in hot summer months

In the heat of the summer, you may find your thirst going into overdrive.  Especially if you work outside or are physically active outdoors, you will want to be sure you are drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.

That being said, make sure you know what you are drinking.  If you have a tendency to grab a diet soda, energy drink, iced tea or blended coffee beverage, beware.  There are now even caffeinated waters on the market chock full of vitamins, minerals or electrolytes.  However, not all these beverages are healthy.  And, you may be consuming more caffeine than you realize. 

 

Caffeine content of beverages is wide-ranging.  You may like diet sodas, which tend to have 35-45 milligrams of caffeine per 12-ounce can.  If coffee is your favorite, then you may be drinking 200 or more milligrams of caffeine per cup (the small size!)  Generally speaking, most healthy adults can consume up to 200-300 milligrams of caffeine per day without significant interference with daily activities.  Caffeine, though, affects us all differently, and knowing your limits is important.  Caffeine’s affect on athletic performance is controversial, with some studies finding benefit of some caffeine to performance in endurance sports and other research finding no benefit or a negative effect on performance.  If you have irritable bowel or other gastrointestinal problems, you should probably avoid caffeine all together.  Pregnant women should be especially cautious, since some research has found caffeine consumption to be linked to a higher rate of miscarriage.  Talk to your doctor or a dietitian to find out how much you can safely consume.

 

Here are some general tips that will help keep you hydrated in the warmer months, while avoiding or limiting caffeine as much as possible:

  • Select water, juice, diluted juice, milk or milk alternative beverages, seltzer water or club soda and caffeine free teas as your most healthful, hydrating beverages.  Choose decaffeinated coffee if you love coffee beverages and select sports drinks or low sugar sports drinks if you are an athlete or construction worker who is outside in the heat for long periods of time.
  • Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, as most of these contain good water content.  Watermelon, citrus fruits and cucumbers are among the top water-containing produce options.
  • Incorporate chilled soups into mealtime.
  • Rehydrate prior, during and after exercise.  Also, if you are sightseeing or spending a lot of time gardening or doing other outdoor activities, keep water on hand to sip on regularly.
  • Limit or avoid alcohol consumption, as this can dehydrate you.
  • If you cannot avoid caffeine completely, aim to set realistic goals to reduce total consumption.  Caffeine-free sodas or half-caff coffees are a good place to start.
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