Hydrate for Health

— Written By and last updated by Cindy Nance

When the temperature rises, proper hydration is extra important. You need to provide your body with the fluid it needs in order to keep itself healthy. Water regulates many different processes, including body temperature, digestion, and heart rate. It also cushions and protects our organs. When we don’t get enough of it, our bodies can suffer.

We lose water from our bodies every time we breathe, sweat, or urinate. In fact, it’s estimated that you can lose up to 4 cups of water during an hour of exercise in the heat. This water loss can lead to dehydration. Signs of dehydration include… dark urine, dizziness, rapid breathing, rapid pulse, headache, and cramping.

Ultimately, dehydration can lead to extreme thirst, confusion, heat stroke, loss of consciousness, and death. So, you may ask how can you manage staying hydrated in the heat of summer? One of the keys is not to wait until you are thirsty. Drink water regularly.

Food can also provide some of the water you need every day. Things like watermelon, soup, milk, lettuce, and strawberries can help you get that needed hydration. In general, sugar-sweetened sports or beverages with added minerals, vitamins, or electrolytes are not necessary unless you are a competitive athlete or in heavy training for an athletic event.

So how much water should I drink in order to stay hydrated? It really depends on the person and the activity. You should be drinking enough so that you will urinate every two to four hours and the color of the urine should be light. If you are working out, drink two cups of water before the activity, 4-6 ounces every 15-20 minutes during the activity, and 16 ounces after an hour–long workout.

You should start your day with a big glass of water; carry a water bottle with you and refill it often. When selecting bottled beverages, look for drinks with fewer than 20 calories per ounce. Ask for water in restaurants, it keeps you hydrated and most times it is free. Make infused water by adding slices of lemon, lime, oranges, or other fruit to your tap water. Combine it all in a big pitcher and store it in the refrigerator. Add a splash of juice to your water for a change of flavor. If you’re going to exercise, make sure you drink water before, during, and after your workout.

Information sources from Ohio State University MS, Professor Cheryle Jones, Syracuse

For more information contact Lethia Lee, EFNEP Assistant with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service at 910-592-7161.

Written By

Photo of Lethia LeeLethia LeeEFNEP Educator, Extension Program Assistant (910) 592-7161 lethia_lee@ncsu.eduSampson County, North Carolina
Posted on Sep 8, 2014
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