With the hottest part of the summer happening now is a good time to focus on healthy hydration.
A large percentage of our bodies are made up of water so it is important to keep your fluid levels topped up.
Being properly hydrated not only helps you to feel healthy and energetic, it also plays a role in: controlling your body temperature, digestion, carrying nutrients around the body, cushioning organs and joints, getting rid of waste, and keeping your bowel movements regular.
Your body will be at risk for dehydration if the amount of fluids you lose through things like sweat, breathing and waste excretion is greater than what you consume. By the time you feel thirsty, you may actually be mildly dehydrated. Other signs of mild dehydration are: dry lips and mouth, flushed skin, fatigue and irritability.
Severe dehydration is less common and usually occurs in more complex situations such as illness or extremely hot temperatures coupled with low fluid intake or physical activity. Signs of severe dehydration include: blue lips, blotchy skin, confusion, cold hands and feet, rapid breathing, high fever and even unconsciousness.
To prevent even mild dehydration it is important to make sure you are taking in enough fluids throughout the day. A good rule of thumb is to go by the colour of your urine. Light, clear-coloured urine indicates healthy hydration, while dark, strong smelling urine is a sign of dehydration.
Fluid requirements change based on things like: age, sex, body size, activity level and environment.
In general, fluid requirements are:
Young infants ~150ml/kg body weight
Toddler ~100ml/kg body weight
Adult ~50ml/kg body weight
That works out to an average of around 3 L (12 cups) for adult men and 2.2 L (9 cups) for adult women each day.
Women who are pregnant or breast feeding should increase their fluid intake slightly. Athletes will also need more fluids depending on the amount of fluids they lose through activity. The rule of thumb there is to weigh before and after exercise to replace the amount of fluid lost (3 cups per pound lost).
Fluid intake comes from the foods and beverages you eat and drink.
Fluid requirements can be met by consuming most beverages and some foods like soups and fruits or vegetables with a high water content, but water is one the best choices because it contains no calories or other additives. It is a common myth that caffeine-containing beverages are dehydrating. It is recommended to keep caffeine intake to no more than 400 mg per day (the equivalent of 3 cups of coffee or 1 litre of black tea). Herbal and decaffeinated teas can be used as a flavourful way to increase your fluid intake without exceeding your caffeine limit.
Here are some tasty ways to reach your fluid intake:
Make an infused water! Infuse subtle flavours into your water using fruits and herbs. Some interesting combinations are: cucumber and lime, fresh berries and mint, lemon and ginger.
Make juice ice cubes and add to water to add some flavour and only a small amount of natural sugar.
Try a sparkling water. They now come in flavours like lemon and pomegranate berry.
Invest in a BPA-free water bottle to take your water on the go and track your intake.
Hydration: Keeping it Healthy
Provided by Heather Barnes, Registered Dietitian with Atlantic Superstore
The adult human body averages ~65% water
The Brain is about 73% water