Fitting in Fluids

One of the things people notice about me when I’m out and about is that I carry a really big water bottle with me everywhere I go. I suppose this is a result of my having grown up in the desert. But it’s a good habit that helps me ensure I am getting the fluids my body needs to stay properly hydrated.

With temperatures soaring this summer, it’s especially important for us to drink enough fluids so our bodies can function properly and stay hydrated. Fluid is essential for life. We need fluids in order to remove waste products from our bodies and replace losses from breathing and through sweat. If we don’t replace the lost fluid, our bodies suffer and we may be in danger of overheating.
Many people may not actually realize they are dehydrated. There are some noticeable signs of dehydration to look for, including: tiredness, constipation, feeling nauseous, or frequent headaches. A good rule of thumb to use when assessing proper hydration is the color of your urine. Pale and straw-colored urine usually indicates proper hydration, whereas anything darker than this, and you would probably benefit from drinking more fluids.
So, how much fluid do we actually need? General recommendations are to try and drink 8 glasses of water each day, each glass being 8 fluid ounces. An even better suggestion, if you can do it, is to drink half of your body weight in ounces. For example, a person who weighs 200 pounds would try and drink 100 ounces of fluids per day.
Water is definitely the best fluid to provide hydration, but some people have a difficult time drinking water, as they may find it boring or don’t like the taste. I appreciate Emily’s suggestion from a past blog post of putting a lemon in your water and then drinking it through a straw. I really enjoy making a big jug of ice water and then adding either some sliced cucumbers or sliced oranges. Both of these provide a clean, fresh taste and give a nice, subtle flavor without being overwhelming.
For more information about staying hydrated, especially in the summer months, this article is helpful. I also found this interesting article that warned of the potential health hazards of drinking energy drinks in the summer months, particularly for children. Many energy drinks are quite high in caffeine. Some can/ contain about 5 times the amount of caffeine compared to a cup of coffee. And energy drinks tend to be high in concentrated sugars. Both of these elements can lead to dehydration. Similarly, soft drinks, which can be high in sugars as well, can potentially result in dehydration.
If you are looking to increase your water consumption, it’s important to remember that when you make lifestyle changes, doing so gradually can lead to more realistic and successful outcomes. If you do not currently drink much water, it may be unrealistic for you to try and increase this to 8 glasses per day. Start small. Try and have one or two extra glasses per day, and go from there.
Proper hydration can definitely make a difference in our overall health and well-being. So, as the summer heats up, don’t forget to fit in your fluids.
Rachel Cope MPH, RC, CD