Rethink Your Drink: Stay Hydrated During These Hot Summer Days

By Barbara Pierce

It’s hot out there! As you know, we’ve been experiencing record high temperatures.

“Stay hydrated!” recommends program coordinator Megan Graziano, Oneida County Health Department.

“Drink water!” is something we hear often these days.

“Water is an essential nutrient,” said registered dietitian Crystal Hein, owner and operator of Crystal Clear Nutrition, Herkimer. “It’s used in every cell of our body.”

Drinking water does more than just quench your thirst. It’s essential to keep your body functioning properly and feeling healthy. Nearly all of your body’s major systems depend on water to function and survive. However, if you consume contaminated water, it will cause negative effects to your health. So, victims of contaminated water may seek help from a camp lejeune water contamination attorney to determine their best legal actions.

Every day, we lose 8 to 12 cups of water through sweat, perspiration, evaporation through skin and lungs, urine and bowel movements, so it needs to be replaced, according to Hein.

“Our bodies need more fluid during hot weather,” she added. “Also, we need more fluid when we’re physically active, have a fever or infection, or have diarrhea or vomiting.”

Why do we need more water? Our bodies require water to survive — humans can’t live for more than a few days without drinking. We can go without food for one or even two months. Even though water is treated rather insignificantly, no other nutrient is more essential or needed in such large amounts.

One of the main functions of water is it regulates body temperature, said Hein. Also, it acts as a lubricant for joints, protects tissues and organs, aides the body in getting rid of waste via urine, perspiration and bowel movements, as well lubricating the digestive system and carries nutrients and oxygen to cells.

Getting enough water can prevent dehydration; dehydration can cause unclear thinking, mood changes, can cause your body to overheat, or lead to constipation and kidney stones. Also, it can cause headaches, dull skin, fatigue, weight gain (when one mistakes thirst for hunger).

The complications of dehydration can be fatal; even kidney failure and coma.

Symptoms of dehydration include thirst, dizziness, fatigue, feeling faint, and dark colored urine with a stronger odor. It’s important to drink before you experience these symptoms.

How much water do you need?

“How much water you need depends on your weight,” said Hein. “Everyone’s fluid needs will be different. Drinking at least 8 to 10 cups of water a day is probably a good starting point. Your fluid intake from sources other than water can count towards your daily total fluid intake.”

Factors that increase your fluid needs include exercise, hot weather, a high-fiber diet, or increased losses from caffeine and alcohol intake. To determine if you’re getting enough fluid, notice the color of your urine when you get up in the morning: lemonade-colored urine is a sign of appropriate hydration; dark-colored urine indicates dehydration.

If water is not your thing, plenty of other drinks are available: smoothies, iced coffee, iced tea, protein shakes, milk and other drinks are good alternatives. However, avoid relying too much on drinks with a high sugar content, like sodas, fruit juices containing sugar, energy drinks and chocolate milk.

If you like the tingle of carbonated soda, try club soda, seltzer or sparkling water with a splash of fruit or fruit juice, a slice of lemon or lime.

“You can count the fluid you get from foods (fruits and vegetables), soups, 100% juice, milk, seltzers, decaf teas and coffee,” said Hein. “Caffeinated beverages do have a mild diuretic effect (that means that they cause us to urinate), but we can even count moderate amounts of caffeinated beverages towards our total fluid intake.”

“Alcoholic beverages don’t hydrate and also have a diuretic effect; therefore, they should not be counted towards your daily total fluid intake,” she continued.

In the heat, it can be tempting to crack open an ice-cold beer to cool off. But alcohol doesn’t work to cool you off. It’s dehydrating and increases your risk of being dehydrated. Without it, your body flushes out water more easily. If you must drink, drink along with food and drink water equal to the amount of alcohol you’re drinking.

Hydration multipliers, electrolyte-based hydration powder like Liquid IV or LMNT, are becoming popular. They’ve been used in the sport and fitness world as a way to rehydrate faster and replenish lost electrolytes, which happens when we sweat a lot during exercise or are in a hot climate.

“I suppose they would be beneficial for endurance activities (runners or triathletes) or even for physical activity in extreme hot weather,” said Hein. “Liquid IV does contain potassium, sodium, B3, B6, B5 and carbohydrates. This shouldn’t be a problem for most people. However, it does contain about 22% of the daily value for sodium, which is high. For endurance athletes who lose sodium while competing, this would be beneficial to replace the loss. I don’t know that the general population would benefit from this product, on a day-to-day basis, as these products are expensive as well.”