BY: CHRISTINE PATRICK
COUNTY EXTENSION AGENT
Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated when outdoor temperatures and humidity levels are extremely high. Dehydration is a health risk, especially for young children and the elderly. To avoid dehydration and keep your body working normally during the summer months, replace water lost through sweating, breathing, urination, etc. throughout the day.
On an average day, a healthy adult needs 8 to 12 cups of water to replace the amount lost through perspiration, breathing, urination, and bowel movements. These fluids must be replaced to avoid dehydration and to keep the body working normally. When eating a high fiber diet, extra water is needed to process the additional roughage. In general, one quart of water is needed daily for every 50 pounds of body weight. The exact amount of water needed depends on: age; gender; weight; health; level of physical activity; foods are eaten; any medications that were taken; and the weather.
Thirst is one sign that you need fluids. Your current fluid intake is probably adequate if you drink enough water to quench your thirst, you feel well, and you produce a normal amount of urine that is colorless or slightly yellow. However, do not wait until you feel thirsty before drinking something. Sometimes the brain doesn’t get the thirst signal. Older adults often lose the ability to sense thirst.
Eighty percent of your total fluid intake comes from beverages of all kinds, and the other 20% comes from foods. Fruits and vegetables – fresh, frozen, and canned – contain lots of water. For example, watermelons, tomatoes, lettuce, and celery contain more than 90% water, and oranges are 87% water. Milk, soymilk, juice, and soup all supply water to the body and contain other nutrients.
Choose water as your primary beverage. It is usually inexpensive and readily available. Water is also thirst-quenching, contains no calories, fat, cholesterol, or caffeine, and is low in sodium. Water’s other benefits include:
Try to drink water instead of sugary drinks. Other smart beverage choices are low-fat or fat-free milk, 100% vegetable, and fruit juices, and unsweetened beverages that contribute to total water intake without adding calories. Limit beverages containing carbonation, caffeine, and alcohol.
All beverages are mostly water, which is a nutrient that is essential to life. Every body function depends on water, and you can live only a few days without it. Your total body weight is 55-75% water, which is approximately 10 to 12 gallons. Water makes up about 83% of blood, 73% of muscles, 25% of body fat, and 22% of bones.
Tap water, especially from large municipal water systems, is just as safe as
bottled water and less expensive. If bottled water gets a person to drink more water, then the added expense may be worthwhile. Be aware, however, that some bottled water is actually reprocessed tap water, and others have added sugar and sodium.
For more information on the benefits of drinking water, how to determine the amount of water you need, ways to drink more water throughout the day and symptoms of dehydration visit the Clemson University Home and Garden Information Center on the web at http://hgic.clemson.edu and refer to Fact Sheet #4151, Fluid Needs.
Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer
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