The best beverages to stay hydrated

Good, bad, better / Bienestar Sanitas Magazine Ed.132. Text: Maricielo Acero Rodríguez
Date: December 5, 2016

"You are not sick, you are just dehydrated." This was the conclusión reached by the now deceased Iranian doctor Fereydoon Batmanghelidji, after spending his life examining the consequences of lack of water on the body.

The United States Institute of Medicine has revealed that dehydration increases fatigue and decreases cognitive performance, due to the fact that 76% of the brain is composed of water. For this reason, the first thing that a hospital will give a sick person is serum, which is nothing more than water with mineral salts. Let's take a look at some hydration alternatives, some healthier than others.

BAD

Alcoholic beverages: do not serve alcohol to replenish water lost, because alcohol is a diuretic that causes further dehydration. An ice cold beer may quench your thirst, but it is not recommended for hydration because it contains between three and five percent alcohol, according to Cristina Posada, Nutrition Services Manager at Colsanitas.

Soft drinks: they contain water and a high quantity of simple sugars, which translate into empty calories, meaning they don't have any nutritional value. They are not recommended as a hydrating drink, and even less so when playing sports or doing other activities, because they can cause an upset stomach due to their carbonation and sugars.

Juice boxes: they are believed to be beneficial because it is assumed that they are made with "natural fruit," but they contain a large amount of sugar, dyes, and artificial flavors. They are manufactured so they can last for months in the box, and they do not provide many of the nutrients of real fruit, such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Energy drinks: they contain stimulants such as caffeine and taurine, which may reduce the feeling of muscle fatigue, but they may have adverse effects, such as tachycardia (an abnormally rapid heart rate). Others have been "enriched" with guarana, a plant consisting of caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline, substances that can accelerate the heart rate and the force of the heartbeat. A cold drink with caffeine may be refreshing, but caffeine is also a diuretic, which is not good for hydration.

Diet sodas: they do not have sugar, but they do contain a large quantity of dyes and artificial flavors dissolved in water, and do not provide the nutrients the body needs. However, they serve as an alternative when you need to replace fluids without adding calories.

GOOD

Flavored water: it can be with or without carbonation, and it has become a more healthy option than soft drinks, especially for those who do not drink plain water because they feel it is bland or boring. Some are sugar-free or have very little sugar, but they all have flavorings that do not add any nutritional value.

Sports drinks: these are specially designed for athletes and for those who have lost significant amounts of water and electrolytes, like when working in a hot environment, or if you have hyperhydrosis (excessive sweating), or episodes of acute diarrhea. Their main benefit is that they have precise amounts of sugar (glucose), sodium, potassium, and other minerals that the body loses when sweating.

BETTER

Pure water: 70% of the planet and the human body are made of water. Water is involved in all the chemical processes that exist in nature and in each of the human body's functions, with the advantage that it is the only liquid that provides zero calories. If you feel thirsty, it is because the body has lost water and it must be replenished. Not everyone needs to drink eight or more glasses of water a day; only drink what is needed to not feel thirsty.

Sugar-free natural juices: whether they are made of fruits, vegetables, or both, they are free of chemicals and, in addition to quenching your thirst, they add nutrients─mainly vitamins and minerals. Make sure to drink the juice immediately after preparing it, so that it doesn't lose nutritional value after coming into contact with oxygen in the atmosphere. When you are not thirsty, but hungry, eat whole fruits and vegetables (including the skin) to provide more vitamins, minerals, and fiber to the body.

Tea: In addition to water, tea is a drink with antioxidants (substances that fight harmful particles that are generated during the various processes of the body), which explains why, in the past few years, it has become so popular in the western world.  It is best consumed as tea bags or natural tea leaves, and avoid drinking packaged teas because of the amount of sugar, preservatives, sweeteners and artificial flavoring that bottled or canned teas contain.

Infusions: are appreciated for their hydrating, refreshing, and medicinal benefits. Since ancient times, plants and flowers have been used for medicinal purposes, and currently, many medicines are produced on the basis of herb and flower extracts. It has now become popular to mix herbs with fruit to enhance their therapeutic effects, enhance the flavor, and make them more attractive