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The Importance of Hydration

It’s that time of the year when we not only have to concentrate on being fit, but also on staying properly hydrated too. The summer heat can cause some pretty severe symptoms and in some cases death if regular and adequate fluids are not consumed.

Water is one of the most important components of our daily diets. Water helps lubricate internal surfaces, flushes toxins through the kidneys, transports nutrients throughout the body, maintains healthy blood pressure, regulates body temperature and sustains healthy vital organs. If you are not getting enough water, your bodies major systems start to shut down…and dehydration set’s in. Dehydration can be very sneaky and come on very quick during the hot weather, especially for seniors, children and for people working or playing during the hottest times of the day (between 10am and 4pm)

Symptoms of Dehydration

Dehydration can happen at any time of the year in any weather condition. Summer heat seems to bring on more instances of dehydration due to larger losses of body fluid through sweating. Be conscious of the following symptoms to help prevent or treat dehydration:

  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Tiredness
  • Decreased urination
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Fever
  • Delirium
  • Water Consumption Recommendations

There is a lot of information out there for athletes about hydration…not too drink too little, not to drink to much…when to drink, when not to drink and even what to drink. The National Institute of Medicine recommends about 3 liters of fluid for males and 2 liters for women. This includes all beverages like coffee, juice, water, tea, milk etc. Additional fluid may be needed but can generally be found in the moisture of foods. The general recommendation for eight 8 oz glasses of water per day converts to about 1.9 liters. This amount would be sufficient for most women, males need slightly more. Exercise and excessive sweating cause extra water loss and create higher fluid needs. Be sure to maintain proper hydration before, during and after strenuous exercise, especially in the summer heat.

Water is really the best

When hydrating in the summer heat, water is really your best option. In some cases sports beverages may be needed if you have been doing very strenuous exercise or work and there has been excessive fluid and electrolyte losses through sweat. There are a variety of products out there all claiming to be the best.  For general health, try to choose beverages with lower calorie content and lower added sugar. Juices, sodas and sweetened coffee beverages can add unnecessary simple carbohydrates to your diet.

Sources: MedlinePlusMayo Clinic 1Mayo Clinic 2National Institute of Medicine, Runners World Magazine, Prevention Magazine.

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