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Health Team

Thirsty? Stick to water instead of sports drinks, dietitian says

Posted June 27

Summer heat means more sweating, and it can lead to severe dehydration for people who don't get enough fluids.

Many people slay their thirst at stores by buying sports drinks or other sweetened beverages. But most people don't need more than just plain, old water.

Many people who are dehydrated just don't drink enough water.

"We want things that are flavored and sweet-tasting or maybe do give you a little bit of a jolt with caffeine, and water is really nature' s perfect way to stay hydrated," said Cleveland Clinic dietitian Lindsay Malone.

Experts say the amount of water people need depends on their size, weight and activity level. On hotter days, if a person is outdoors, they will need to drink more than the standard eight glasses per day.

Malone says electrolyte-infused sports drinks are only necessary if you are losing an excessive amount of fluids from vigorous exercise or if you are sweating profusely from working outdoors in the high temperatures.

Beware of sports drinks, though, because they are full of sugar and high in calories that you probably don't need.

If you want an added boost, Malone recommends foods that can help keep you hydrated as well.

"So, think about fruits and vegetables that splash when you bite into them, like oranges, melons, cucumbers, tomatoes," Malone said. "All of these are naturally high in water."

But beware of caffeinated beverages, such as iced tea, sodas or even coffee. Caffeine is a natural diuretic that causes you to lose water.

Also, summer is sports camp time. Make sure campers are getting plenty of fluids the night before, the morning of and frequently during the exercise period. The constant flow will help to prevent dehydration and heat-related injuries.

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