Keep Hydrated This Summer
The weather is warming up, and perhaps Mother Nature is calling you to start spending more time outdoors. But before you grab your swimsuit, put on your sunscreen, or break out that floppy hat, be sure to have a plan in place to keep yourself hydrated all day long – the most essential part of keeping cool this summer.
The Benefits of Hydration
Your body is made up of up to 50-70% water, and we need water to survive and thrive. Water performs critical functions – it regulates our body temperature, lubricates our joints, moistens tissues in the eyes, nose, and mouth, protects body organs, rids us of wastes, and carries nutrients and oxygen to every cell in our body. Water is our friend!
How Much Water Do We Need?
Water is an essential nutrient – we cannot make enough on our own. Water is naturally lost through our sweat, urine, and bowel movements, so it is critical to replenish these losses every day.
If you lose more water than you take in, you may become dehydrated. Moderate dehydration can result in fatigue, headache, poor memory, or difficulty processing information. Severe dehydration requires immediate medical attention and can lead to more serious problems such as kidney failure, heart failure, or even death.
Individual hydration needs depend on many factors, including your overall health, activity level, age, gender, environment (i.e., climate and altitude) and physical activity level. For children, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends 7 cups (56 fl oz) per day for boys and girls aged 4-8 years old; 9 (72 fl oz) cups per day for boys and 10 cups per day for girls aged 9-13 years old. The Academy also recommends men drink 12 cups (96 fl oz) of water and consume 3 cups of water from food for a total of 15 cups per day. For women, the Academy recommends drinking 9 cups (72 fl oz) of water and consuming another 2.5 cups from food for a total of 11.5 cups per day.
Summer heat and activities can lead to increased perspiration and water loss, so know what you need, and keep your body replenished!
Drink AND Eat Your Water
Drink your water – any which way you would like: ice cold, room temperature, or warm in soups and herbal teas; with a slice of lemon, cucumber slices or cut strawberries; carbonated or “flat” – the choice is up to you!
Eat water-filled foods you enjoy this summer! Watermelon, cucumbers, bell peppers strawberries, and cantaloupe are all in season and contain more than 90% water. Cut up watermelon and cantaloupe to make a refreshing fruit salad. Make a yogurt parfait with fresh strawberries. Grill fajitas with extra peppers and onions. Make a rainbow-filled plate of food to enjoy on your picnics while staying hydrated!
Stay Safe – Drink and Eat Safely
Drink Water From Safe Sources: Be sure to always have water with you to drink, especially if you are out in the heat, running errands, or away from home. Fill your water container or two with either tap or bottled water as you head out the door. If you are out hiking or camping, never drink from a natural source of water, such as a lake or stream. When out traveling, make sure you know where your water is coming from, and how to purify it if necessary.
Drink Pasteurized Juices and Clean Your Produce: When you are on that road trip, you might be tempted to drink “fresh” juice from the roadside. Be mindful that freshly-squeezed juice from raw fruits or vegetables may contain bacteria from the produce. To avoid foodborne illness, skip the juice and go for the whole fruit instead. Be sure to wash the produce thoroughly to remove any bacteria or dirt.
Bottom Line: Hydration needs vary, depending on age, gender, environment, weather, physical activity level, and your typical diet. Knowing how much you need and identifying your favorite sources of hydration are the first steps in ensuring you get enough water each day this summer. And any time of the year!
Learn more about the importance of hydration and other wellness programs offered by Wellness Workdays.
Written by Edenn Sarino Vidrio, MPH, MS, MCHES®, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern
1. Mayo Clinic