Cool Summer Drinks: Your Best Bets
6 refreshing ways to stay hydrated this summer.
Nothing hits the spot on a summer day when you're super hot and thirsty
quite like ... what? You see, everyone will answer that a little differently. I
polled my family of four and got four different nominations for favorite cool
summer drinks: ice water, iced tea, nonalcoholic beer (my husband's choice),
and mineral water with lime.
Summer inspires us to sip more, and sip often. That's because:
- We sip to hydrate our bodies.
- We sip to cool down and refresh ourselves.
- We sip for the sheer enjoyment of it.
Most of us have certain summer drinks we look forward to revisiting each
year -- drinks that epitomize the sensation of summer. They may evoke happy
memories from our childhoods -- like buying strawberry lemonade at the fair, or
sipping sweet tea on the porch on a lazy summer night as your family watched
the sun set.
But what are the best summer drinks? These are drinks that contribute water
(hydration) with the least amount of other ingredients that might detract from
hydration or health. For example, because caffeine is a diuretic (it increases
the amount of urine eliminated by the body), it can hinder hydration.
Then there's sugar, which while adding enjoyment, also adds calories.
Heavily sweetened beverages don't seem to quench your thirst, but stimulate
Alternative sweeteners shouldn't be a problem for most people, in moderate
amounts. But, in my opinion, they aren't your best choice for drinking
throughout the day anyway. If you don't seem to have a sensitivity to diet
sodas, and you enjoy drinking them, try keeping them to 1-2 servings a day.
Keep in mind there are still questions about the health effects of drinking
a lot of soda every day. One study showed that drinking more than two servings
of cola a day more than doubled the likelihood of having chronic kidney
disease. The interesting part: It didn't matter whether the cola was sweetened
with sugar or alternative sweeteners. (Other types of carbonated beverages in
the study were not associated with chronic kidney disease.) The researchers
suggest that it probably isn't the caffeine or the sugar in soda causing
problems, but phosphoric acid, which gives a tangy taste to cola and acts as a
Another recent study showed that drinking just one soda drink a day may
increase your risk of heart disease -- and it doesn't matter whether you drink
diet or regular sodas. The study found that a soda habit increases the risk of
developing a condition called metabolic syndrome, which boosts your chances of
getting both heart disease and diabetes. (The soft drink industry took issue
with these findings.)
And what about people with gastrointestinal issues? For this question, I
consulted my favorite gastroenterologist, Anthony Starpoli, MD, for his summer
sipping advice. He recommends noncaffeinated, noncarbonated drinks, like herbal
"The problem with soda in general, for people with acid reflux, is the
carbonation," says Starpoli. "And the aspartame in diet soda seems to
worsen reflux for some of my patients."
So, given all of the above summer sipping strategies, I'm going to try to
rank your best bets for cool summer drinks.