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Cool Summer Drinks: Your Best Bets

6 refreshing ways to stay hydrated this summer.
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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 iced tea.

"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.

Cool Summer Drink No. 1: Cold Water

Cold water hydrates, cools, and refreshes you like nothing else. If your tap water has levels of components/contaminants that you aren't comfortable with, you can buy a filtering system (even the affordable carafe type) that can help.

The environmentally cool thing about tap water or filtered water is there are no plastic or glass bottles to trash or recycle.

You can make your water taste a lot more interesting by adding a slice of lemon, lime, or orange.

Cool Summer Drink No. 2: Water With Natural Flavor Essence

This type of flavored water -- with no calories and no alternative sweeteners -- is my favorite way to drink water. If you don't care for plain water, give these a try. If it tastes good to you, you'll be more likely to drink more of it -- and stay more hydrated.

Depending on where you live, you'll have many brands to choose from, like Crystal Geyser, Calistoga, or Perrier with lemon. The first two brands come in assorted noncaloric and nonartificially sweetened flavors -- lemon, lime, orange, and berry. These are bubbly, though, so drink them only if carbonation isn't a problem for you.

If you want something nonbubbly, try Calistoga Mineral Water with essence. Its ingredients are simple: mineral water, natural flavors, and carbon dioxide.

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