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For Better Living: Balance Your Beverages to Stay Hydrated

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By Sandra Cain

Sandra Cain
Sandra Cain

Drink plenty of refreshing, calorie-free water.
Water does the body good. Water has no fat, calories or sugar but it helps your muscles and brain stay hydrated for best physical and mental performance. It also keeps your stomach, intestines and kidneys working smoothly. This lets you digest your food and get rid of waste. How much water you need depends on your size and activity level.  You will need to drink more water when it is warmer and when you are more physically active.  Keep a water bottle handy in your car, at work, home or school.

Drink nutrient-rich, fat-free milk three times a day.
Milk isn’t just for kids.  Adults need it too. Nutrient‐rich dairy foods help build and maintain healthy bones and teeth for a lifetime. Dairy foods may also help build muscle mass, maintain a healthy weight and lower the risk of high blood pressure. For the most nutrients with the least fat and calories, go for skim or 1%.  One cup of whole milk has 8 grams of fat while one cup of skim milk has only a trace. Choosing low-fat or fat-free milk is a good way to reduce your calorie intake and still get the nutrients that milk provides.    An 8‐ounce glass at each meal is an easy way to get 3‐A‐Day.

Drink no more than 4 to 6 ounces of 100% fruit or vegetable juice a day.
While 100% juice can be a great source of several nutrients, it is possible to get too much of a good thing. Fruits and veggies are much better ways to get vitamins, minerals and fluids. Whole produce tends to be more satisfying, plus you get the added value of fiber and phytonutrients from the skin and pulp. Want an easy way to extend the flavor of juice? Mix pure fruit juice with sparkling water or herbal tea; add a zesty lemon or lime wedge—and maybe a sprig of mint.

Drink other beverages with care.
Notice that we have not talked about other, high‐calorie beverages that cost a lot? That’s because most other drinks are loaded with things we don’t need. They have very little of what our bodies actually crave. Soft drinks, sweet tea, fruit drinks, sports drink and energy drinks are loaded with calories and sometimes caffeine. Fancy coffee drinks are often very high in calories, fat and sugar.  Get back to the basics.  Order your coffee black or use skim-milk and artificial sweetener.

Below are some ways to make smart choices.

*Be a label reader: Check calories, caffeine, sugar and fat before you drink.

*Steer clear of energy drinks: Watch for label warnings, since some brands have too much caffeine for youth and pregnant women. Don’t drink any beverage that has alcohol mixed with caffeine.

*Stick with small sizes or share larger ones: Moderation is always a smart way to treat your body well.

Source:  N.C. Department of Health and Human Services

Sun-Kissed Smoothies

¾ cup ruby red grapefruit juice

1 medium ripe banana, cut into chunks and frozen

½ cup cubed fresh pineapple

½ cup frozen unsweetened peach slices

4 ice cubes

1 tablespoon sugar

In a blender, combine all ingredients.  Cover and process for 30 – 45 seconds or until smooth.  Pour into chilled glasses.  Serve immediately.

Fruit Slush

5 frozen whole strawberries

1 cup frozen blueberries

1 can (6 ounces) frozen orange juice concentrate

½ cup reduced-sugar sliced peaches, drained

¼ cup sugar

¾ cup water

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Place all ingredients in a blender. Cover and process until smooth. Pour into chilled glasses and serve immediately. Yield: 4 servings