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Drink to your health!

Dr. Teresa Fuller | 2/7/2014, 10:52 a.m.

Most of us know we should eat a healthy diet, but we don’t often think much about what we drink. Yet, our choice of beverage is critically important to our health because proper hydration flushes toxins out of our system and keeps our bodies functioning optimally. Here are 4 tips to healthy hydration:

•Drink eight glasses of pure water every day. Up to 75 percent of us are walking around chronically dehydrated, so we clearly need to drink more water. Water boosts your immune system, reduces inflammation, and keeps your body at a healthy pH. By drinking the right amount of water, you will notice so many benefits, such as: a decrease in symptoms of dehydration like fatigue; headaches; back and joint aches; improved regularity; and weight loss. Would it surprise you to know that the average person drinks 10 to 25 percent of his or her daily caloric intake? By replacing sweetened beverages with plain water, you will be on your way to losing unwanted pounds.

•Drink two to three cups of freshly brewed green tea every day. Green tea has powerful disease-fighting antioxidants. Several studies have shown that drinking at least two cups of green tea daily inhibits cancer growth. Specifically, green tea has been shown to reduce the risk of skin, breast, lung, colon, esophageal and bladder cancer. Green tea can also reduce obesity and help to lower LDL cholesterol.

•Avoid sodas. Both regular and diet sodas are bad news. An average 12 oz regular soda contains 10 to 12 teaspoons of sugar, and as you may know, sugar is a major culprit in weight gain. Another major problem with soda is their acidity. Your body requires a slightly alkaline pH to perform optimally, and conversely, disease thrives in an acidic environment. Soda also weakens bones and don’t make the mistake of thinking that diet soda is a better choice. Diet soda contains harmful artificial sugars, and, surprisingly, diet soda is now being associated with weight gain instead of weight loss.

•Avoid energy drinks. Caffeine levels in energy drinks range from about 80 milligrams (mg) to more than 500 mg. in a can or bottle, compared to about 100 mg. in an average cup of coffee. This amount of caffeine can cause dangerous increases in heart rate or blood pressure. My advice? Get your energy from eating nutritious foods, eating regularly and getting adequate amount of sleep.

So start your year off with the simple and healthy habit of drinking for good health.

Teresa Fuller M.D., Ph.D. is board-certified in pediatrics and integrative holistic medicine, and she holds a Ph.D. in physiology. She has been a practicing pediatrician in the Maryland area for the past ten years. Dr. Fuller has become a strong advocate for improving the health of her patients and the wider pediatric community.