The sun is out and the heat is on. Proper hydration is critical for keeping cool and maintaining optimal health this summer. The human body consists of up to 75% water, or about 10 to 12 gallons, so replenishing your body’s water supply is the essential ingredient for proper body function.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Complete Food and Nutrition Guide (previously named American Dietetic Association’s), the average person loses about 2 ½ quarts of water, and possibly even more when the weather is hot and humid. Some signs your body may be dehydrated and in need of more fluids include:
- Little or no urine, or urine that is darker than usual
- Dry mouth
- Sleepiness or fatigue
- Extreme thirst
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
How much fluid is enough? The answer to this question varies depending on many factors such as an individual’s health, amount of physical activity, and geographical location. The Institute of Medicine determined that a total beverage intake of 13 cups per day for men and 9 cups per day for women, adequately meets the hydration needs for a healthy adult living in temperate climate. Although this recommendation is somewhat contrary to the “8 by 8 rule,” drinking eight, 8-ounce glasses of fluid per day remains popular because of the easy to remember slogan.
What fluids are best? The type of fluid chosen to meet daily fluid needs makes a difference, maybe even more than you think! While water remains the preferred fluid recommendation, consumers are constantly served a plethora of beverage choices: soda, sports drinks, fruit juice, sweetened coffees, smoothies, energy drinks and more. Unfortunately, many of these beverages contain added sugars and make it all too easy to consume additional calories. If weight loss/maintenance, diabetes management, cavity prevention, or heart disease prevention is a goal, drinking sweetened beverages in moderation is key to your health. The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to no more than 100 calories per day, or about 6 teaspoons of sugar for women, and no more than 150 calories per day, or about 9 teaspoons a day for men.
If more reasons to limit added sugars are needed, consider this:
- A 20 ounce sweetened soda contains 16-18 teaspoons of sugar and 220 calories
- One regular soda a day can lead to as much as 25 lbs of weight gain per year
- Regular soda and other sugary drinks in baby bottles and sippy cups contribute to early tooth decay in infants
- The recommendation for fruit juice for young children is drink no more than ½ cup of juice per day and no fruit juice for infants under 6 months old
- Ordering water instead of regular soda in restaurants just once a week can save approximately $78 and 12,480 calories every year
In Solano County and in partnership with the Network for a Healthy California-Gold County Region, we encourage you to Rethink your Drink! because beverage choices can drastically effect your health. Choose water first; it’s free, has zero calories, and is the number one fluid medium for our bodies. Other nutritious and delicious drinks include low-fat/non-fat cow’s, soy, almond, and rice milks. Milks are good sources of calcium and Vitamin-D, and are essential for strong bones and teeth. Whenever possible, choose fresh fruits and vegetables over juice. Fruits and vegetables are naturally water-packed and great sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. So drink up Solano!
Krisma DesPortes, MS., RD. is a graduate student at Touro University and completing her work-field study at Solano Coalition for Better Health.