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Don't Drink Your Calories

Nashville, Ark. – If water is so important to us, why do so many reach for something other than water when they are thirsty? How do you decide what you should be drinking?


            One of the basic necessities we must have to survive is water. Water is a major component of every body cell, tissue and organ. It plays an important role in almost every body function. It is essential for temperature regulation; transportation of oxygen and nutrients through the blood; aiding in elimination of waste through urine and feces; lubrication of joints; acting as a major component of body fluids such as mucus and tears; and giving the cells their shape and stability.

            So if water is so important to us, why do so many reach for something other than water when they are thirsty? How do you decide what you should be drinking?

            There are choices other than water that are still nutritious. Consider 100 percent juices, low-fat milk, soups, and smoothies. Pure juices are naturally packed with nutrients like vitamin C, folic acid, and potassium. Low-fat milk provides calcium and essential B vitamins. And soups and smoothies are loaded with vitamins and minerals. It’s important to remember that all of these foods have calories, so keep portions in mind.

            Sodas, soft drinks, sports drinks, and juice drinks are loaded with calories and lack the nutrients of 100 percent juices and milk. Basically they are sugar water, which adds hundreds of empty calories to your day. If you drink one soft drink a day, after one year you’ll drink approximately 29 gallons and nearly 50,000 calories. Most people don’t realize how quickly they drink their calories, and when they cut back on sugary drinks, they almost instantly lose weight. That makes sense when you realize that a 12-ounce can of soda has 150 calories and the equivalent of about 10 teaspoons of sugar. You can lose half a pound a week simply by cutting out two sodas a day – talk about the benefits of small changes!

            At zero calories, a bottle of cool, refreshing water is a smart choice. For flavorful options, try adding a splash of juice and/or a squeeze of lemon to ice water or club soda. Herbal teas, served hot or iced, are also a good hydrating choice, and many are naturally sweet.

            Besides drinking water, we get fluids in the food that we eat. Many fruits and vegetables have a high water content, another reason why we should eat a lot of fresh produce. Although beverages such as coffee and soda contribute very small amounts of water, caffeine is dehydrating and can cause you to lose water.

            Start today and try to cut your intake of sugary soft drinks to no more than one cup a day, your waistline will thank you for it.

            For more information contact me at the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, in the Howard County Courthouse, call 870-845-7517, e-mail me at or visit our website at

Recipe of the Week

            Here is a refreshing drink you can make. Great for an afternoon drink on a hot day!

This recipe comes from the website  There are lots of great recipes for you to try.

Fruit Juice Slush

12 ounces fruit juice concentrate, 100% real fruit juice

12 ounces water

3 cups ice

            In a blender, place fruit juice concentrate, water and half of the ice. Blend while gradually adding the rest of the ice. Serve.

Yield: 6 servings

Nutrition information per serving: 113 calories, 0 fat, 4 mg sodium, 27 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 2 g protein.

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


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