Thirsty? Drink Water, Not Soda, to Stay Hydrated

It's the middle of summer, and the mercury in most places around the U.S. is rising. On a hot day, what do you do to stay cool?

You could stay inside with air conditioning, or venture outside in the heat. Then go for a swim, play in a park, or have a picnic. If you're outdoors, it won't take long for you to feel the effects of the sun. You'll want to take precautions to cover up, use sunscreen and protect your eyes. But what about managing your thirst on a hot day?

You might be tempted to pop open a can or bottle of your favorite soft drink. Or fill up a 32-ouncer at a quickie mart or fast food restaurant. A lot of people do. In fact, the average American drinks an estimated 50 gallons of soda a year, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

But it isn't healthy. Soft drinks are loaded with sugar that can be harmful to your health in more ways than one. But that's not the only reason you should avoid or limit soft drinks. Drinking soda on a hot day, instead of water, raises your risk for dehydration and kidney damage, according to a study published in the American Journal of Physiology.

In lab experiments, researchers found that when the body is mildly dehydrated (which is not uncommon on a hot day), soft drinks only made dehydration worse. And left unchecked can lead to kidney damage. However, drinking water improved hydration and help support kidney function.

If you want to protect your kidneys and your health, drink more water, especially during hot weather. How much? Aim for about 8 cups of water a day. You may need more than that if you're highly active or spend a lot of time outdoors during the summer.

And you know what goes well with a cold glass of water? A home-cooked meal that only takes minutes to prepare. Check out the large selection of Renal-Friendly meals to choose from that can make meal prep during the summer a cinch.