During the long days of summer, it’s natural to think about watering your lawn and garden, the houseplants, and the pets. But what about your need for water?
“Getting plenty of fluids every day is essential,” said John Baldea, M.D., sport medicine physician. “Water is in every cell of the body. It helps regulate the body temperature, cushions and lubricates joints, protects sensitive tissues, and assists the digestive system.”
Most people can meet their need for water by drinking when they are thirsty and consuming fluids with meals. But hot weather, vigorous physical activity or an illness can increase your body’s need for water.
The Need for Hydration
You need to replace what your body loses through everyday functions- such as sweating, going to the bathroom and exhaling. It’s essential to replace lost fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated. Symptoms of dehydration are:
(In athletes; dehydration may also lead to muscle cramps.)
Being thirty is a signal that your body is already on the way to being dehydrated. It is important to drink fluids even before the signs of thirst appear and to drink more hat your thirst demands.
Getting Plenty of Fluids the Healthy Way
When quenching your thirst, take care in choosing what you drink. While beverages such as soda as sports drinks do contain water, they are also high in sugar and calories.
Along with water, other healthy choices for keeping hydrated include:
1. Fat-free or low-fat milk
2. Unsweetened ice tea or coffee
3. Fruits and vegetables with a high water content, such as watermelons, grapefruits, apples, lettuce, broccoli and carrots
4. A moderate amount of unsweetened, 100% fruit juices (The fructose content in fruit juice and fresh fruit can actually make hydration worse.
When you choose water, you can give it a little kick by adding a wedge of lemon or lime.
Individual water needs vary widely, depending on factors such as age, physical activity and exposure to heat. Some people need to restrict fluids because of health conditions. Be sure to talk with your doctor about the amount of water you need each day.
-St. Franciscan Health Today, Summer 2012, p.1