5 Healthy Hydration Soothers

by Sheryl Kraft

Drink up to feel better. Drink up to feel better. It's good to know that so many of you are avid water drinkers. My recent post about how much water we really need to drink bore that out (thanks to all of you who weighed in!).

But aside from drinking water because you're thirsty, drinking liquids in general (not the alcoholic kind) can reap lots of health benefits. Yes, wine in moderation has its health benefits...but we'll save that for another day.

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From an upset stomach to a nasty cold, you can take comfort in the power of liquid to soothe what ails you.

If your stomach is upset...try ginger ale.

It's nothing new; since ancient times, the underground stem (or rhizome) of the ginger plant has been used to treat stomach upset, diarrhea and nausea. Make sure to check the ingredient label on the soda you choose - some contain more pure ginger than others, and some use only artificial flavorings and sweeteners. After you pour it, wait a while to let the bubbles dissipate, and then drink it flat. That's more soothing than downing a glassful of busy bubbles.

If you've had a tough workout...try chocolate milk.

Yes, you can consume water or sports drinks after a workout. But sometimes it's nice to know you can still act like a kid and drink chocolate milk. Touted by many as the perfect post-workout recovery drink due to its four-to-one ratio of carbs to protein, it's a highly effective recovery aid for tired muscles. And milk's high calcium count and scant amounts of sodium and sugar can help recovering athletes retain water and regain their energy. But beware: there are calories here, where there are none in water. So if you drink chocolate milk regularly, be sure to factor in the calories.

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If you have muscle cramps...try pickle juice.

Doesn't sound too appetizing (or maybe it does, if you happen to love pickles), but this juice might help ease painful muscle spasms, usually in the legs. In fact, many athletic trainers regularly give pickle juice to their athletes who are suffering from cramps. Some research points to the possibility of there being a molecule of some kind in the pickle juice that communicates and disrupts the cramping reflex in the muscles.

If you can't sleep...try chamomile tea or tart cherry juice.

The use of chamomile goes back thousands of years, and studies seem to back it up as a useful way to improve the quality and duration of sleep. The herb has a calming effect and works as a mild tranquilizer. Not a tea drinker? Try the juice instead: one study found that adults who drank two glasses of cherry juice each day slept longer and better.

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If you have a cold or the flu...try chicken soup.

This old-fashioned remedy has some new-found popularity, because it really works. First, it acts as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting the immune cells that fire up the body's inflammatory response. Second, it temporarily helps thin the mucus, which eases congestion and limits the amount of time that viruses hang out in the lining of your nose. If you don't like it or don't have chicken soup handy, there's always warm water with a squeeze of lemon and a bit of honey to help ease those sniffles.