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Restore fluids without wrecking your body

Jul. 21, 2010 - 07:40PM   |   Last Updated: Jul. 21, 2010 - 07:40PM  |  
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Summer scorchers should have you constantly topping off with liquid coolants, but be careful: The drinks you grab could pack more punch than you want, adding pounds, sapping energy and doing all kinds of other damage.

Experts say your body normally needs about a gallon of fluid every day, but more than twice that as temperatures rise. Follow these tips to keep hydrated and healthy through the summer months.

Bottled vs. tap

Even fancy bottled water can knock your teeth out, says Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chaffin. One of the Army's top dentists, Chaffin says that all too often, bottled water doesn't have nearly enough fluoride to protect teeth.

"Fluoride helps to remineralize teeth so cavities don't form," he says. "When the demineralization process is faster than remineralization, teeth develop cavities." Fluoride also stops decay, repairs early cavities and keeps new ones from forming.

Sip tip: Grab a reusable water bottle and top off with tap water.

‘Energy drinks' vs. noncaffeinated

While coffee, sodas and other caffeinated drinks can be great energy uppers, they can be extreme downers in hot weather. And contrary to popular belief, it's not because caffeine is a diuretic.

"That was a big initial concern, but it doesn't have the effect people think it does," says Navy Cmdr. Steven Gonsalves, a sports-medicine researcher with the Human Performance Lab at the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Md.

Over a typical day, the caffeine in, say, three to five cups of coffee won't make you shed more fluid than you take in.

But caffeine can increase anxiety not good for those struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder and there's evidence that it can also lead to significant muscle damage when the heat is on, Gonsalves says.

Sip tip: Amped-up beverages are great workout boosters, but lay off caffeine in high heat.

Sports drinks vs. juices

Sports drinks are awesome for replacing fluids and restoring lost electrolytes if you're working out, but they also make it easy to drink your way into a fat body.

"If you're hitting the gym for less than an hour, low-cal sports drinks or flavored waters are great," says Leslie Bonci, a registered dietitian and author of "Sport Nutrition for Coaches."

Even 100 percent fruit juices pack on the pounds if you're not burning off the calories. "A cup a day is fine, especially if you have trouble getting your daily servings of fruits and veggies," says Bonnie Taub-Dix, a registered dietician and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

Sip tip: If you're burning a lot of calories, grab full-calorie sport drinks and juices. Otherwise, downgrade to water and low-cal drinks.

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