Tips for keeping your children (and yourself) well-hydrated this summer

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Tips for keeping your children (and yourself) well-hydrated this summer

By Dr. Ingrid Maes

AKA “Dr. Mom”

In the midst of this summer’s heat wave, the question concerned mothers most frequently ask is what their children should drink to stay cool and hydrated. They want to know if soda or pop is OK to drink, or whether they should give their kids sports drinks.

My advice: Ignore the TV commercials and sports-world hype! Forget about soda (including diet) and sports drinks. They are loaded with sugar, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavorings and excess calories. It takes more than an hour of strenuous activity for highly-trained athletes to deplete their stores of electrolyte and glycogen that sports drinks are purported to restore, and most children don’t engage in that type of demanding workout. That’s why the number one drink to rehydrate the body is still H2O – water!

Why water? Water is the most important nutrient for life. It has many important functions including regulating temperature, lubricating joints and transporting nutrients and waste throughout the body. Unlike animals, our bodies don’t store water. That’s why it’s important to encourage our children to drink plenty of it throughout the day, not just after a baseball, soccer or lacrosse game.

Is room temperature or cold water the best way to re-hydrate? It depends on the circumstances. If your child has been playing outside in record temperatures and sweating profusely, he or she will need cool water to help the body restore its balance. Otherwise, room temperature water won’t shock the body’s systems and it will be able to rehydrate faster. (Vets recommend you can help your pets stay cool by filling their water dishes frequently with fresh cool water, not ice-cold.)  

Is Coconut water a good alternative?

Coconut water, the juice from young, green coconuts, has been marketed as nature’s great hydrator, the all-natural alternative to electrolyte-replenishing sports drinks. An independent laboratory, ConsumerLab (https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/coconut-water-one-vita-coco-zico-review/coconut-water/), tested three prominent coconut water brands and found that only one, Zico Natural Pure Premium Coconut Water, had an electrolyte content equal to popular sports drinks. Sodium, an electrolyte commonly lost through sweat, is the key ingredient here. According to ConsumerLab, Zico has 160 milligrams of sodium per serving compared to sports drinks such as original Gatorade, which contains about 110 miligrams of sodium per cup. The two other coconut water brands tested by ConsumerLab contained less sodium and magnesium than advertised.

You can also include high-water-content foods, such as cucumbers, tomatoes, jicama, celery, carrots or melons, in your daily meal planning to help your family stay well-hydrated. These fruits and vegetables are excellent additional water sources, as well as nutritious snacks. Keep an abundant supply of cut-up fruits and veggies in your fridge so they are ready to be eaten whenever hunger strikes.

Other options

After playing outdoors or exercising, if you or your children require a bit of a pick-me-up, there are other options. Recent studies have shown that some solid foods, such as bananas and raisins, may be just as effective for sustaining performance and restoring the electrolyte balance of hard-working athletes. And with the extra benefits of fiber, vitamins and antioxidants, these fruits may better complement a complete nutrition and fitness plan. And check out the “Workout Recovery” smoothie in our recipes section

Because liquids are absorbed better and replenish the body quicker, when it comes to your children you may want to stick with fluids to rehydrate their bodies. If your children don’t drink enough water, you can mix it up by substituting the following easy, all-natural and healthy “sports drink” recipes:

All-Natural Sports Drink – Lemon Flavor:                                   

  • 1/4 c. honey (optional)
  • 1/2 c. fresh lemon juice (not from concentrate)
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  •  1 tsp (175 mg) ionic magnesium citrate (you can pick up Natural Calm magnesium at the PureBalance Apothecary)
  • 2 quarts water or coconut water(Zico*)

Mix well in high-speed blender. Makes a little over 2 quarts (64 ounces).

*Note: If you use Zico coconut water, eliminate magnesium and sea salt.

All-Natural Sports Drink – Cranberry-Pomegranate Flavor:

  • 2 c. 100% juice cranberry-pomegranate juice (not from concentrate)
  • 1/4c. honey (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp (175 mg) ionic magnesium citrate* (you can pick up Natural Calm magnesium at the PureBalance Apothecary)
  • 2 quarts water or coconut water(Zico*)

Mix well in high-speed blender. Makes 2-½ quarts (80 ounces).

*Note: If you use Zico coconut water, eliminate magnesium and sea salt.

The best way to prevent dehydration is to make sure your kids get plenty of fluids (even when they’re not thirsty) when playing with friends or engaging in sports outside!

Signs of Dehydration:

If your child is sweating a lot on a hot day or during intense physical activity, watch for signs of dehydration, which can include:

  • Lethargy
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Dry or sticky mouth
  • Dry, cool skin

Take immediate action – drink cool water and get to a shaded area. In the case of nausea, vomiting or fever, your child may require emergency medical attention.

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About the Author

Dr. Ingrid Maes

Dr. Ingrid Maes specializes in gentle chiropractic care and creating a lifestyle that promotes your best health. As a doctor of chiropractic and certified acupuncturist, Ingrid is skilled at identifying the root cause of imbalance and creating physical, nutritional and emotional balance in all systems of your body.

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