Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Dietitian Is In: Enhanced Waters

When we meet someone for the first time and share what we do, it often seems to open the gateway to a game of 20 questions. “What do you think about the Paleo diet?” “It’s a good thing to give up gluten, right?” “Is a banana bad for me?” “So, do you always eat healthy?” When we’re asked these kinds of questions, we’re happy to answer them. We feel grateful that people feel comfortable enough to ask. Here's a recent question we were asked...and here's the answer!

Question: Are enhanced waters worth the price?

Answer: With slick claims that enhanced waters improve focus, increase energy, help you “revive” or make you “glow,” it’s understandable why many of us toss water aside in place of these brilliantly marketed beverages. But, generally that’s all these enhanced water bottles are— well-marketed hype—despite some added nutrients, such as electrolytes, antioxidants, and water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C and the B vitamins. A few diluted vitamins and minerals do not necessarily make these beverages worth the extra dollar or two compared to plain bottled water. Most health experts agree that, while high performance athletes may benefit from a sports beverage containing carbohydrates and electrolytes to enhance athletic endurance and optimize fluid retention, most ordinary people get enough electrolytes and vitamins in their diet, and thus can stick with plain old water. And since your body doesn’t store excess amounts of water-soluble vitamins, you simply excrete what is not used. Indeed, you gain more benefits from eating nutrients in whole foods than you do in their isolated forms. In the end, you’re basically paying for flavored, sometimes sweetened water. Some enhanced waters provide up to 120 calories and 33 grams of sugar per 20-ounce serving—just shy of the 140 calories and 39 grams of sugar in a can of regular cola.

Photo courtesy of W.J. Pilsak

This Q&A was written by McKenzie for the "Ask the Expert" section in the August 2013 issue of Environmental Nutrition.

So, when it comes to meeting your hydration needs, try our five thirst quenching strategies below:

#1. Invest in a water bottle you really like – it will be worth it, we promise. Carry it around with you throughout the day so it’s easy and convenient to take small sips. No need to guzzle an entire bottle at one time!

#2. For something different—and fancy! Pour a glass of sparkling water and combine it with a splash of real fruit juice (orange, cranberry and pomegranate are our favorites). You can also try hint water -- a product we love for it's essence of flavor without the added sugar or artificial ingredients -- when you’re on the go!

#3. If you need a water break (pun intended!), try brewing your own iced tea. If you really want to be impressive, freeze lemonade in your ice-cube trays and add a few cubes to your glass. When they melt, rather than diluting the tea, they’ll enhance the flavor and provide a touch of satisfying sweetness.

 #4. Try adding fresh slices of oranges, lemons, limes or cucumbers to your water. Not only does it look pretty, having that additional flavor makes drinking your water way more fun.

#5. Eat your fruits & veggies. You don’t necessarily have to drink all of your fluid needs. Foods you eat contribute to total water consumption too. Some foods, however – such as fruits and veggies – have a higher water content than most foods so it’s a good idea to listen to your doctor and mom, and eat them - as if you need another excuse.

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