While the occasional soda or glass of juice is fine as a treat, your best bet is to get most of your fluid intake from low-calorie options such as water, unsweetened tea and coffee, and low-fat or fat free milk, advises Alice Bender, M.S., R.D.N., senior director for nutrition programs at the American Institute for Cancer Research. Here, four tips for healthy hydration:
Spice up your water. Plain old water is the best way to quench your thirst because it’s both sugar- and calorie-free, says Bender. But if you get bored drinking it straight up, there are ways to make it more palatable. If you prefer a carbonated beverage, opt for sparkling water (just make sure you choose an unsweetened option). Or drop some frozen fruit like berries, cherries, or peaches into your water. (The flavor will intensify as the fruits thaw.) You can also freeze herbs and/or fruit in ice cubes, or add herbs like mint or lavender for a more satisfying flavor.
Be cautious with diet drinks. Although this study didn’t find a link between artificially sweetened diet beverages and cancer, Touvier still urges caution. “Most people in our study didn’t drink them, so we didn’t have enough evidence to say definitively that they don’t have an impact,” she explains, adding that other research has linked them to increased risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes and stroke.
Drink unsweetened coffee or tea. Despite some concerns that coffee beans contain the carcinogen acrylamide, both java and tea are rich in antioxidants that may have cancer protective effects, stresses Bender. And two studies published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2017 found a link between coffee consumption and a ower risk of dying from many common diseases, including cancer. But skip the sugar and sprinkle cinnamon or cocoa on top of your coffee instead.
Go easy on fruit juices and sports drinks. Unless you’re exercising outdoors for more than an hour, you’re unlikely to need sports drinks, says Doyle. And if you (or your kids) are a juiceaholic, cut down. Doyle recommends less than 4 ounces of 100 percent juice a day. You can start by mixing juice with water, then gradually decreasing the amount as you get used to the flavor so that your taste buds adjust to less sugary beverages.