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By Josey Crew
Lincoln Trail District Health Department
The summer is here, and we have already endured some very hot days.
Hopefully, we are all eating less, exercising more, and staying hydrated by drinking more water.
Water, the nutrient our body needs the most, also helps prevent dehydration. The effects of dehydration can range from thirst to kidney failure and are usually silent but progressive.
Therefore, we need to pay attention to the early signs of water loss because before we know it, we can become severely dehydrated.
It is important to drink even before signs of thirst appear. Thirst is a signal that your body is already on the way to dehydration. In order to replace lost fluid it is important to continue to drink throughout the day.
Check your hydration level by keeping an eye on your urine output and color. Urine should be a pale yellow unless you have just taken supplements; in that case it may be a bit darker.
It is important for us to stay hydrated all year round, not just in the summer time. Whether it’s winter or summer, your body needs water to maintain its normal temperature.
In humid and hot weather, your body perspires which increases water loss. Keeping your body hydrated during the winter is just as important. Since we are mostly indoors during this time, the heated air evaporates the moisture on your skin and you need to replace that lost water.
The average adult loses about two and a half quarts of water daily through sweating, urinating, and even breathing. Most people need about eight to 12 cups of water per day. So, if you are drinking four to six of those 16.9 oz. bottled waters per day, you should be getting the recommended amount.
Of course when doing vigorous exercise or strenuous work it is important to up your normal daily intake of water. Drink one to three more cups of water as you increase the intensity and duration of your activity.
What is the best fluid to keep you hydrated? You guessed it... water. This is considering that you are not already dehydrated and you are taking in enough water throughout the day.
Some sports drinks are meant to replace fluids, sodium, and potassium lost through sweating. Just be aware that these drinks contain sugar and those calories can add up if you are consuming them in excess to replace fluids. To avoid doing this, don’t wait until you are on the verge of dehydration to fill up on sports drinks with extra calories.
It’s easy to prevent dehydration with the recommended amount of water, so drink up!
Editors note: Josey Crew, RD, LD is a clinical dietitian for Lincoln Trail District Health Department. Nutrition counseling is available for children and adults by appointment at the Marion County Health Center. Monthly classes are also offered for weight loss and people with diabetes. For further information, call (270) 692-3393.