With the warm weather encouraging outdoor activity, it is a good time to think about how much and what types of fluid we are drinking.
To function properly, the human body requires water. Adequate hydration helps to regulate body temperature, lubricate joints, moisten tissues, protect body organs and tissues, flush out waste products, prevent constipation and dissolve nutrients (for absorption).
The average person needs between tow and three litres of water a day, with about one- third coming from food.
Drinks other than water count, such as tea and coffee, but drinks containing alcohol don't. The exact amount we need depends on the level of activity, temperature, humidity and other factors.
The easiest way to find out if you are having enough fluid is to check the colour and volume of your urine. Except for first thing in the morning, urine should be almost clear and there should be plenty of it. Some vitamin supplements can turn urine quite orange. In this case, take a smaller dose, so that not so much goes down the toilet.
Generally, the thirst mechanism keeps our fluid levels relatively stable, but thirst can let you down during physical activity. Aim to drink at least two cups of fluid before exercise. During exercise, drink at a rate that is practical and comfortable. After exercise, replace fluid as soon as possible, as dehydration will affect your recovery. Take fluids regularly until your urine is clear.
When exercising for less than 60 minutes, plain water is fine. For longer periods, a sports drink with added glucose and electrolytes (sodium and potassium) may be beneficial.
Look for one that contains 4 to 8 grams of carbohydrate per 100ml. Fruit juice, cordial, soft drinks and energy drinks are too high in carbohydrates and too low in electrolytes to be ideal for fluid replacement.
Does it matter what you drink? Each time I walk down the drinks aisle at the supermarket, I am surprised by the ever-increasing range. Some of these drinks are high in energy (calories/kilojoules) and research has shown that they contribute to weight gain.
If we are not careful about what we drink over the day, the kilojoules soon add up.
Check the label for energy and sugar content and consider the bottle size. You'll be surprised at what you find. For instance, while fruit juice provides some benefits from the vitamin content, it has about the same amount of sugar as cola (about six teaspoons per 250ml).
Even if the sugar is "natural", it still has the potential to contribute to weight gain and tooth decay.
Diet soft drinks and sports waters contain little or no sugar.
However, they have a low pH, which may erode tooth enamel. To minimise the damage, keep sugary and acidic drinks for meal times.
Saliva production is high at this time and helps protect the teeth by washing sugar and acid away. Avoid sipper bottles for drinking sweet and acidic drinks.
REFRESHING GREEN TEA COOLER
4 cups boiling water
8 green-tea bags
2 cups cold water
1/2 cup Splenda sweetener granular
In a saucepan, pour boiling water over the tea bags.
Cover and steep for 5 minutes.
Remove the tea bags from the water, squeezing gently.
Stir in cold water and sweetener, stirring until the sweetener dissolves.
Serve over ice.
Use the Consumer Liquid Pyramid as a guide to selecting a healthy drink.
For a printable version, visit consumer.org.nz/reports/ liquid-pyramid/the-pyramid.
Prepared by Michelle Butler (BSc, Diploma in Dietetics).
Taranaki Daily News