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Food and beverage do’s and don’ts for the summer heat: 2 Your Well-Being

In the summer heat, staying hydrated is key. Do you know the nutrition do’s and don’ts to help stay safe this summer?

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The summer heat is here to stay, and while you might find a dip in the pool or time in the A-C is enough to keep you cool, staying hydrated is key. But do you know the other nutrition do's and don'ts to stay safe?

In today's 2 Your Well-Being, we talked to Melissa Leonard, a registered dietitian with Cone Health Nutrition and Diabetes Education Services about ways to help keep you cool and hydrated on hot summer days.

Do's

  • Drink your water! Dietitian Melissa Leonard says a minimum of 64 oz a day for adults and 32 to 64 ounces for kids, based on their age and size, is recommended.
  • If drinking water is a challenge for you, bring a water bottle with you throughout the day. You can let your child pick out fun or cute water bottle for encouragement. Bringing it with you will encourage you to take sips throughout the day. Leonard says a bottle with the ounces printed on the side can help you keep track of your goals, and if you have a bigger water bottle you won't have to make as many refills (but remember, you're going to be carrying that bottle around!).
  • If you want to add some flavor, Leonard says adding slices of fruit -- like cucumber, lemons, or strawberries -- or even herbs like mint or lavender are a healthy alternative to premade drink mixes.
  • Leonard says fruits and veggies with high water content can help you hydrate. Look for things with 80% water content and higher, such as spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, peppers, melons, grapes, strawberries, and peaches.
  • Frozen fruit can also be a great snack to cool you off. Leonard recommends adding it to things like yogurt, cereal, and oatmeal (just make sure to let it thaw a little first). She also enjoys pureeing her frozen fruit, adding greek yogurt, and making it into popsicles. 
  • You can also add hydration to other meals, think of putting tomatoes on your burger or carrots and cucumber in your salad. Leonard says convenience is key.

Don'ts

  • Don't drink a lot of alcohol. Leonard says that your body loses more fluids when it processes alcohol.
  • If you do drink alcohol, don't rely on it for hydration. Keep a bottle of water with you when having an alcoholic beverage.
  • Caffeinated drinks can have a diuretic effect, causing you to flush out more fluids. But Leonard says drinking caffeine in moderation can be hydrating (but water is still preferred).
  • Don't go outside in a hydration hole. Leonard recommends drinking before, during and after going outside and doing physical activity. She says for every 30 minutes of sweating activity, get 16 oz of fluid. After an hour of sweating activity, you need to start replacing your electrolytes with a sports drink or powder.
  • Don't leave cold foods outside in 90-degree heat for more than an hour. Make sure to keep your cold foods in a cooler, and have a thermometer to make sure the temperature it's in stays 40 degrees and below.

For more nutrition information, visit Cone Health's website.

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