By: Darlene Staheli
Refreshing, quenching, cooling, satisfying. Pleasant words that bring soothing images to mind. However, during the heat of the summer, we may feel anything but refreshed, quenched or cooled. We may even feel some symptoms of dehydration; dry mouth, headache, unusual hunger between meals, irritable, weak, dizzy, nausea, muscle cramps, confusion, sluggish and darkened urine. What can we do to prevent dehydration? DRINK WATER!! Simple, plain water offers profound benefits for our bodies!
Let’s take a closer look at some of the things that water does for us. We are made up mostly of water, over 60 percent of our total body weight, in fact. Every part of our body depends on those little H2O molecules. Water is actually a nutrient and without it, we wouldn’t survive more than a few short days. It’s a wonderful delivery system that carries other vital nutrients and oxygen into our cells so that we have the energy to get out of bed, and do what we do, all day long. It helps us to blink, talk, swallow, breathe and smell. It regulates our body temperature, helps our skin to be soft and smooth, filters waste, cushions our brain and helps all of our bendy parts to bend. And should we need to lose a little weight, it can help with that too. (Try reaching for a glass of water instead of a snack between meals. It really works!)
Because we constantly lose water through sweating, urine, and even through breathing, we need to replenish several times throughout the day. The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake for men is roughly about 13 cups of liquid a day. For women, about 9 cups are recommended.1 According to the USDA, “If you drink fluids when you feel thirsty and have beverages with meals, you should get enough water to keep you hydrated.”2
Obviously, we need more if we’re out in the heat, exercising, or doing additional strenuous activities, usually around 2 or 3 cups more for minimal activity. For intense activity, we need to hydrate even more, before and after, possibly with a drink containing a little sodium.
And let’s not forget to drink while at the pool or the ocean. Sometimes we don’t realize our need to drink water when we’re surrounded by water. Also, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need additional fluids to stay hydrated.
It’s easy to determine how much water you need by paying attention to urine output, which should be light in color. If it’s dark or has an odor, go drink some water!
Certainly, there are some physical conditions, like congestive heart failure, kidney failure, peripheral vascular disease, liver failure, etc. where fluid intake is restricted and must be managed under the direction of a physician.
But what if I don’t like water?
I have had several clients who have struggled with the “flavor” of water. To overcome this, here are a few proven tips to make water drinking more enjoyable:
-Make homemade “SpaWater,” by adding delicious fruits to water and ice. Some great combinations are:
-Drinking seltzer or sparkling water, and adding some of the additions mentioned above for a light flavor.
-Decaffeinated herbal teas, cold or warm.
-Fill a bottle partially full of water and freeze it. When on the go, fill it up the rest of the way and it’s ready to cool and refresh.
-Experiment with differing temperatures of water. Some people are surprised that they actually prefer water at room temperature.
-Fresh foods high in water content can be a wonderful way to increase water intake. Examples include; watermelon, citrus fruits, grapes, apples, papaya, strawberries, apricots, cherries, carrots, bell peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach.
So, determine your water intake needs, carry a water bottle with you and keep track of how much you’re drinking. Drink when you’re thirsty and with meals. Drink extra when you need to, and stay well hydrated for a healthy, happy season!
2. USDA website; www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002471.htm