As summer temperatures begin to rise and you spend more time outside enjoying the weather, it’s important to remember to hydrate. Between barbeques, parties and picnics, you’re bound to come face-to-face with a host of summer drink options—but beware, because many of them will be unhealthy choices.
A lot of the most popular summer drinks are deceptively loaded with sugar, putting you at risk of all the negative effects sugar can have on your health. Instead of drinking lots of soda, alcoholic beverages or sneaky, sugar-filled teas and juices, experiment with some of these refreshing and healthy summer drinks.
Be cautious about sugar
Although the occasional sugary drink won’t hurt you, it’s important to be mindful of how much processed sugar you ingest—especially when you’re trying to stay hydrated in the summer. Sugar has been proven to have lasting effects on the human body.
Excessively sugary diets not only introduce extra calories in your diet, which can make you gain weight faster, but can also put you at risk for high blood sugar and type 2 diabetes. It may also lead to an increased risk of heart disease and similar conditions.
Finally, sugar can have a negative effect on your mind and your mood. Excess sugar can cause brain fog, which leaves you feeling tired, irritated and unable to focus. Studies have even indicated that sugar can worsen symptoms of depression.
Unfortunately, the summer drinks you’re indulging in to cool off and stay hydrated may be sneakily packed with sugar. Lots of juices are high in sugar, as are specialty cocktails that use juices or simple syrups. And, traditional sodas are typically some of the worst you can have in terms of sugar content, so think twice about reaching for a cold, carbonated can on a hot day.
Refreshing summer drink alternatives
Because many popular drinks are unhealthy, especially in larger quantities, it may seem difficult to find your go-to summer beverage. Fortunately, there are actually a lot of cool and refreshing options that blend some of summer’s classic flavors with antioxidants and other nutrients.
- Iced green tea: Green tea has been proven to be one of the most beneficial beverages aside from water, thanks to its many healthy compounds. Loaded with antioxidants, green tea can help strengthen your immune system and reduce oxidative stress on the body from free radicals. It also contains caffeine for those who need an extra boost, anti-inflammation properties and amino acids that are good for the brain. Instead of drinking it hot this summer, brew a large carafe and chill, then mix with iced for a cool drink.
- Coconut water: While flavored coconut water can pack a bunch of sugar, plain coconut water can be the refreshing, not-water drink you’re searching for this season. It’s packed with electrolytes like potassium, as well as antioxidants. Coconut water is a great choice if you’ve been active outside and need to rehydrate quickly.
- Infused water: Water is obviously the most important beverage to drink during summer. As you sweat and soak up the sun, you’ll need to replenish your body with cool water to prevent dehydration, promote healing and bolster your immune system. If plain water gets too boring, though, you can spice it up by infusing it with a variety of fruits and herbs. Drop some freshly-cut lemons or limes into a pitcher or mix in strawberries and mint for a unique taste.
- Plain iced coffee: Coffee is great for a pick-me-up, but nobody wants to drink a hot beverage on a hot day. That’s where iced coffee comes in. Studies have shown that a small amount of coffee can actually be beneficial to your health, too! Just be careful about loading your coffee up with sugar and creamer—the plainer the coffee is, the better.
- Low-sugar lemonades: Lemonade is a classic summer beverage, but depending on where you get it, it can come with a lot of sugar. Look for creative lemonade recipes that use a smaller amount of sugar and rely on natural fruits for better flavors, instead of pre-packaged lemonade mixes. Making lemonade from scratch with different ingredients also allows you to incorporate a healthier mix of herbs and fruits for more health benefits!
It’s not always easy to keep up with a healthy diet during summer, which is why making informed decisions about your summer beverages is extremely important. Since you need to be drinking a lot more to stay hydrated in the heat, choosing low-sugar and high-nutrient drinks can keep your thirst quenched and your body healthy.