Rethink your drink
Your guide to healthy summer thirst quenchers
BY MICHELLE ARPIN MOLINSKI
Winnipeg Health Region
Wave, Summer 2010
There is nothing like a long, cool drink of
something cold on a hot summer day.
That's only natural. As the temperatures
rise in summer, so does our need to be
cooled and hydrated. Chances are, if you
are feeling sluggish on a hot summer day,
it's because your body is low on fluid,
which is needed to help carry nutrients,
digest food, and act as a cushion for organs
There is, of course, no shortage of
sweet, tangy or tart drink choices to help
shake your thirst. Specialty iced coffees,
slushy ice drinks, pop, lemonades, juices
and fancy cocktails are just a few of the
options on the market today.
The problem is that these drinks are not
always the best choice. Indeed, many of
them are so laden with sugar, they are really
nothing more than liquid candy. Moreover,
these sweetened drinks are being
marketed in ever-increasing portion sizes
to kids and adults alike. The result: We're
all drinking way too much sugar.
For example, did you know that a cup of
iced slush coffee has over 70 times more
calories, 30 grams (seven to eight teaspoons)
more sugar, and seven grams more
fat than a cup of regular brewed coffee?
And don't forget, these drinks are often
sold in larger sizes, providing even more of
The calories in these drinks are known as
"empty calories" because they contain no
nutritional punch. Even worse, the empty
calories you consume can often fill you up
to the point where you don't feel like consuming
healthy foods and drinks. Each time
you reach for the liquid candy, you miss
the opportunity to eat fruits, vegetables
and other foods that keep you healthy and
reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as
obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
According to Statistics Canada, the
average Canadian eats about 23 teaspoons
(92 grams) of added sugar each day, with
soft drinks as the leading source. That's
a lot of sugar, considering the American
Heart Association recently recommended
that women consume no more than 100
calories (about 6 teaspoons) of added,
processed sugar a day, while men should
aim for less than 150 calories (about 9
teaspoons) of added sugar a day.
In addition to containing heaping teaspoons
of sugar, these drinks also contain
acids, which can cause tooth decay. Drinks
that contain natural or added acids are:
pop (regular and diet), flavoured waters,
sports drinks, energy drinks, all fruit drinks
and fruit juices. If you have too many of
these drinks, your teeth will be exposed to
acid over and over again, which can result
in an attack on your teeth's enamel.
Even fruit juices can be a challenge.
Although 100 per cent unsweetened fruit
juice contains naturally occurring sugars,
the total sugar content is similar to pop
and other fruit drinks. It is best to try to
limit fruit juice and instead try to eat more
whole fruits and vegetables, as they contain
fibre and are more satisfying.
Now, none of this is meant to suggest
that you can't enjoy a nice cool drink this
summer. It just means that the next time
you need to quench your thirst, you might
want to try a healthier refreshment.
Water is a great choice any time, but
especially in summer. In addition to cooling
your body and replenishing your fluid
losses from sweat, water is calorie-free,
inexpensive, and readily available.
Milk and soy beverages are also good
choices. They're refreshing drinks that are
packed with nutrients, such as calcium and
vitamin D. Enjoy milk or soy beverages as a
thirst quencher and consider the flavoured
options on ice for a cool treat.
As for specialty iced coffees, energy
drinks, sports drinks, ice slushes, and pop -
try drinking them less often.
Michelle Arpin Molinski is a registered
dietitian with the Winnipeg Health Region.
Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.
Read the Summer 2010 issue of Wave