By Sheila Goldberg, Corporate Wellness Specialist, Independent Health

Do you like soda, smoothies, frozen coffee drinks or energy drinks? Whether it’s sugar, high fructose corn syrup, honey, sucralose, Splenda, aspartame or other artificial sweeteners, consuming large amounts of these sweet beverages can lead to dehydration, weight gain and the development of diabetes.

So, the next time you’re thirsty, take a healthier approach and grab a glass or bottle of water instead. Since our bodies are made up of 60 percent water, your body needs to replenish what it loses in sweat and normal daily body functions.

This is especially true on hot summer days. When hydrating your body, consider adding more water to your diet and less sugary sweet drinks. Among the benefits of drinking water include:

  • Maintains balance of body fluids
  • Maximizes physical performance
  • Produces higher energy levels and brain function
  • Contributes to weight loss
  • Acts as a natural appetite suppressant and will help you feel full longer
  • Prevents and treats headaches
  • Results in good skin health

Start making better beverage choices today by following these helpful tips:

  • For a quick, easy, and inexpensive thirst-quencher, carry a water bottle and refill it throughout the day.
  • Don’t stock the fridge with sugar-sweetened beverages. Instead, keep a jug or bottles of cold water in the fridge.
  • Serve water with lunch and dinner.
  • Make water more exciting by adding slices of lemon, lime, cucumber, or watermelon, or drink sparkling water.
  • Add a splash of 100 percent juice to plain sparkling water for a refreshing, low-calorie drink.
  • In addition to water, other unsweetened beverages you may want to consider over sugar-sweetened beverages are low-fat or fat-free milk, 100 percent juice and fortified soy-based beverages.

How much water should I drink each day?

A great way to determine how much water is appropriate for you is to divide your body weight in half. That is the number of ounces you should drink every day. The traditional rule of thumb has been to drink eight 8-oz. glasses of water, but that doesn’t take into account the fact that the more a person weighs, the more water they need.

If you like to carry a water bottle, choose one that has the ounces measured on the side to track how much you’re drinking during the day. If you plan to start drinking more water, set daily goals. Then write down how much water you drink in a journal so that you can make sure you stay on track.