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Why hydration is so important

Community news | Monday, June 27, 2016

With the summer months comin’ in hot, it is very important to protect and prevent ourselves from becoming overheated. The number one issue other than sunburn experienced by individuals is dehydration. Most of the time, we do not even know when we are dehydrated, it just happens!

First, let’s talk about why it is important to stay hydrated. To put it simply, our bodies depend on water to survive. Every part of our being needs water to work correctly. We use it to stay flexible, maintain temperature, lubricate joints and remove waste. When the weather is really hot, we lose water much faster. We lose water in a variety of ways but the most common are sweating from heat or exercise and fever. Other than losing water without replacing it, another surefire way to ensure dehydration is to not get enough liquids throughout the day. I am sure you have all heard the rule of thumb: drink 6 to 8 8-ounce glasses of water every day. That is a reasonable goal, but some may need more while others may need less. A great way to gauge hydration is by checking your urine. Gross, I know, but oh so true. If your urine is consistently colorless or light yell, you are most likely well hydrated. Dark yellow or amber-colored is a sign of dehydration. Have you checked and you’re still unsure about whether or not you are hydrated? If yes, some other symptoms include: little or no urine, dry mouth, sleepiness, extreme thirst (hello?!), confusion, headache and dizziness.

So, you don’t like water. For most people, sports drinks such as Gatorade can actually further dehydrate you and are loaded with sugars, as are most soft drinks. If you are planning on exercising at a high intensity for longer than an hour, then a sports drink may be suitable, however. For those of us that do not play a college or professional sport, there are some foods that may help us gain our daily water intake. Fruit and vegetable juices (stick to 100%), milk and teas may help. Be careful with caffeinated beverages, though. Water is also found in whole fruits and vegetables, which offer less sugar per serving than juices. Watermelon, tomatoes and lettuce are the top three.

To keep it simple and low fuss, have a bottle of water with you during the day. Carry a reusable and fill it up when you need to from the tap. Grab some fruit and/or mint leaves to flavor up the dull taste of plain water - no extra calories! My favorite is cucumber, strawberry and mint, or just a slice of lemon. Be sure to drink water when you’re feeling hungry, it will help you consume less during the meal. If you are really bad about remembering to drink enough, drink on a schedule. Try for a small glass at the beginning of each hour, or when you wake up, at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

If nothing else, it’s a freebie at a restaurant!

Abby Knoblock
Community Health Educator
Scheurer Hospital