Let’s Eat!: Refreshing drinks to quench summertime thirsts

Published 9:51 am Monday, August 6, 2018

It’s August and it’s still a little hot, weather-wise.

It’s nice to have a refreshing drink during the dog days of summer. What to drink? What are my options?

Well, water is always good, but sometimes we want a little more.

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Water is an essential nutrient that makes your body run smoothly and efficiently. Because the average adult’s body is about 65 percent water, it’s no wonder that we can only survive for about three to five days without it!

Water transports nutrients and oxygen to cells, carries away waste products and lubricates our digestive tracts, joints and cartilage.

The Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences suggests an adequate total fluid intake of about 13 cups per day for men and about 10 cups per day for women. Keep in mind that you may need more or less, depending on activity level, body size and environment.

With the continuing summer heat, it’s easy to turn to soft drinks, lemonade, energy drinks and sports drinks to quench our thirst. While these beverages are convenient and tasty, they are also expensive and high in sugar and calories.

The consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has increased significantly in the past decade. Sugar-sweetened beverages include soda, sports drinks, sweet tea, fruit-flavored drinks such as punch and lemonade, and any other beverage (even coffee) if sugar is added to it. Excess consumption of these beverages is associated with weight gain, poor nutrition, and a higher risk for obesity and diabetes.

Sports drinks were created in 1965 as a supplement for athletes to replace carbohydrates and electrolytes lost during prolonged vigorous activity, especially those performing in high heat and humidity. Sports drinks typically contain water, electrolytes (sodium and potassium) and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates can come in the form of high fructose corn syrup, fructose, sucrose, brown rice syrup, cane juice and/or maltodextrin.  

While designed for athletes, these beverages are common among youth and consumed by many adults who simply like the taste or who are looking for a different kind of beverage. 

The benefits of sports drinks are appropriate only for athletes or individuals engaging in prolonged vigorous physical activity, and/or those activities performed in high temperatures and humidity. These activities include football training during summer months, marathon training and races, competitive soccer and tennis matches, and long cycling races. 

Sports drinks have been shown to decrease fatigue and replace sodium and potassium lost in sweat under these circumstances. Anyone who is participating in vigorous exercise should drink water before, during and after exercise. If children are participating in prolonged vigorous activity in hot, humid conditions for more than one hour, small amounts of sports drinks may be appropriate.  

However, for the anyone engaging in routine physical activity for less than three hours in normal weather conditions, the use of sports drinks in place of water is unnecessary.

Looking for an alternative to high-calorie drinks to refresh you on those hot days? I recommend ginger green tea.

The green tea is an excellent source of antioxidants. Ginger adds a refreshing twist to the usual green tea. Use of sugar is optional.

Drinking green tea regularly may not only boost your fat-fighting metabolism, but may also play a key role in weight maintenance and hunger suppression. Green tea is also brimming with antioxidants and flavonoids that are good for overall health.

Drink freshly brewed tea with no added sugar or cream — bottled store-bought varieties have fewer antioxidants (the concentration decreases the longer tea sits after brewing) and are often pumped full of honey or sugar. •

Jimmi Buell, extension agent, family and consumer sciences, Polk County Center of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, teaches cooking and nutrition classes with a focus on improving health with better food choices. She can be reached at jimmi_buell@ncsu.edu or 828-894-8218.


Servings: 2 (Serving Size: 1¾ cups)


2½ cups of water

1 teaspoon grated ginger

Sugar (optional)

2 bags of green tea


• Heat 2½ cups of water in a pan.

• As it begins to boil, add the grated ginger.

• Simmer for 2 minutes.

• Stir in sugar, if using.

• Remove from heat and add tea bags.

• Let them steep for 2 minutes, then strain and serve.



1/3 cup cranberry juice

2/3 cup club soda

1 lime slice


• Combine cranberry juice and club soda. Splash with lime.