Warmer weather is coming and bringing the need to keep hydrated. Every cell in the body depends on water to survive. Water makes up 50 to 70 percent of body weight and is the body’s primary chemical component. For your body to function healthfully water is a necessity. Water plays a role in ridding the body of wastes through urine, perspiration, and bowel movements. Water also helps to maintain body temperature within normal limits and protects joints and sensitive tissue.
For adequate water intake the rule of thumb has been to drink eight glasses of water a day and that makes a reasonable goal. However, extended working or activity outside resulting in perspiration can increase the requirement. The U.S National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is closer to 15.5 cups of fluids a day for men and 11.5 cups for women. This includes fluids from water, other beverages, and food. About 80 percent of daily fluids comes from beverages and about 20 percent from food.
Dehydration is a condition where normal body function is affected by inadequate water intake resulting in loss of energy and a tired feeling. If you are thirsty, you should allow your thirst to guide you to replenish with fluid intake. Good hydration results in urine that is clear and light in color. In Death Valley where the temperatures can rise, there are urine color charts in the restrooms to help identify when urine color is getting dark in color indicating potential dehydration. Health conditions of fever, vomiting or diarrhea can also increase risk for dehydration and increased need for fluid intake. Be sure to follow your doctor’s recommendations on rehydrating when health conditions occur.
When it comes to hydration, water is the gold standard! Beverages other than water can contribute to fluid intake but not all are a good replacement for water or hydration. Water has zero calories, with no added sugars, no artificial sweeteners, flavors, or colors, no caffeine, and no preservatives that other beverages might add to intake.
If drinking plain water is not appealing, try adding a squirt of lemon or lime or infuse water with other fruits. Try herbal sun teas or vegetable juices. Sparkling water or seltzers with a splash of 100 percent fruit juice can be a refreshing alternative on occasion.
Be cautious in choosing beverages containing caffeine which can act as a diuretic and actually cause loss of fluids. Beverages that contain alcohol are also dehydrating. Sports drinks are formulated for those who are physically perspiring while working or exercising and may contain too much sodium or electrolytes for those who are not active. Energy drinks loaded with caffeine, sugar, and sodium are also not the best for hydration.
Reading Nutrition Facts Labels and beverage ingredients will assure you are making the best choices for both hydration and health.