Stay Hydrated This Summer!

I recently saw a video (posted below) that made me think about the importance of drinking water. The song is rather catchy–Two young girls and their mother sing, “Water, the naturally nurturing drink.” They could not be any more right. Aside from properly sleeping and eating, drinking water is one of the most crucial acts of life. The Healthy Communities Institute reports that nearly 75% of Americans experience chronic dehydration. Especially during these summer months when it gets excessively hot, water revitalizes your body.

Our bodies are about 60% – 65% water, and we lose about 1 quart of our water when we sweat while exercising and playing sports. It’s very important to drink water while being active. Many of us prefer a cold beverage, but warm or lukewarm water does the trick as well. While you may prefer the coolness, your body won’t know the difference!

 Tips to remember about staying hydrated:

  • About 2 – 3 hours before your activity (e.g., dance, running, playing basketball) drink a few glasses of water. This will make your muscles fluid and keep them moving freely. (Nobody likes cramps!)
  • While active, try to drink every 20 minutes. You’ll be constantly sweating and at the same time, constantly replenishing your body. Try to drink small amounts, because too much water will cause you to feel uncomfortable.
  • When you’re finished, continue to drink a few glasses of water. 

 If you follow these tips, you’ll be surprised at how much more effective you will be at your activities. You will have an easier time dancing or exercising and will even be able to stay active longer.

They say milk does a body good, but so does water!

 Jonathan T. Reid, MPH is a clinical researcher and the new Lead Health Educator and Health Blogger for Dance Daze. He has a B.A. in Psychology and a Master of Public Health degree from New York University.

Should My Child Drink Sports Drinks and Energy Drinks?

Sports drinks and energy are all the rage nowadays. Drinks like Gatorade and Red Bull are known to give us an energy boost when we’re feeling tired during work or are exhausted after hitting the gym. The media glorifies them. Athletes from different sports continue to endorse these beverages and, as a result, the drinks are becoming increasingly popular with children and adolescents. The rising numbers of young people consuming sports and energy drinks is a growing concern and is causing health professionals and parents to wonder: Are these drinks necessary?

To answer this question, it’s important to first make the distinction between sports drinks and energy drinks. They are different, even though they are frequently (and mistakenly) used interchangeably. In a recent article by the American Academy of Pediatrics, researchers define sports drinks as “…beverages that often contain carbohydrates, minerals, electrolytes…sometimes vitamins…” While energy drinks are those that “…typically contain stimulants, such as caffeine…” Simply put: Sports drinks are meant to replenish the energy lost while engaging in physical activity and energy drinks stimulate you.

Many adolescents think that they need an energy boost, which is a major factor in making sports and energy drinks appealing. However, physicians suggest that for youth, energy boosts from these beverages may not be the healthiest option. In the clinical report referenced above, the researchers point out that drinking these beverages increases daily caloric intake, without significant nutritional value. Do not be deceived. Even though many sports and energy drinks may advertise that they have certain vitamins and minerals, you can get these nutrients from a well-balanced diet. Sports and energy drinks are also rich in sugar and some physicians argue that these drinks add to the burden of obesity and diabetes in youth. Moreover, pediatricians suggest that for children and adolescents engaging in average levels of activity, sports drinks are unnecessary. In addition, know that sports drinks, in particular, are only meant to be a supplement to and not a substitute for water.

 

The feeling of fatigue and exhaustion is something we’re all familiar with, so it’s easy to see why sports and energy drinks are popular—But are they appropriate for children and adolescents? Many pediatricians say “no.” Remember, the best source of energy, for both adults and children, comes from a well-balanced diet and a good night’s rest.

To read more about children, adolescents and sports & energy drinks click here.

Jonathan T. Reid, MPH is a clinical researcher and the new Lead Health Educator and Health Blogger for Dance Daze. He has a B.A. in Psychology and a Master of Public Health degree from New York University.

What Should I Eat? From a Pyramid to a Plate

What should I eat?

This is a question I’m sure most of us have asked ourselves on numerous occasions. It can be difficult to find food that’s both healthy and affordable, and while many people want to eat healthfully, some don’t have the time, education or resources to do so.  To answer the question “What should I eat?”, it is important to first answer the question “How should I eat?”

There are many free, user-friendly resources out there to help us answer the latter question. In general, these resources will explain that nutrition is a major component of leading a healthy lifestyle. From reading about nutrition, one will quickly discover that our eating habits dictate our weight, emotions and sleep patterns, among other factors. Proper nutrition includes having a well-balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been instrumental in streamlining dietary guidelines for the public to use. In the past, the USDA used a Food Pyramid to represent the 5 food groups and their proper portions. Recently the USDA switched from the pyramid to a plate. The new initiative is called MyPlate and resembles a pie chart with unequal sections. The USDA hopes that MyPlate will improve America’s diet and address the escalating burden of obesity and diabetes.

On MyPlate, you will see that fruits and vegetables, which are the foundation of a healthy diet, take up half of the plate. Some people say a meal is incomplete without meat; I say it’s incomplete without fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are the source of nutrients that help to regulate our bodily functions. Eating these foods may protect against certain type of cancers and lower one’s risk for heart disease. Grains, like rice, bread, and pasta are rich in fiber and are key factors in reducing high blood pressure. Careful, though: Grains can be high in calories, which is why they are smaller than vegetables on MyPlate. Proteins such as beef, chicken, and eggs give us the energy we need throughout our day. It’s important to remember that your meat and poultry should be lean because proteins like beef can raise “bad” cholesterol levels. Finally, the smallest portion, dairy, are those foods made from milk. This includes cheese, fluid milk and puddings. Dairy products help to fortify our bones and reduce our risk of bone and joint related diseases. Like proteins, dairy products can have a large number of calories. For example, if you drink whole milk, it is suggested that you drink reduced fat (2%) or even fat-free (skim). These are healthier options and provide the same nutrients.

Making the right, healthy choices isn’t always easy—but it can be done. Changing your diet takes time and may require doing a complete over-haul of what you are used to eating. Though some things may taste different when you change your diet, you’re making a conscious decision for yourself and your family to live longer, healthier lives.

Bon Appétit!

Jonathan T. Reid, MPH is a clinical researcher and the new Lead Health Educator and Health Blogger for Dance Daze. He has a B.A. in Psychology and a Master of Public Health degree from New York University.