Summer is here and with the warmer temperatures a person’s chances for dehydration increase. Water is one of the six major nutrients we need each day and it is essential for life. Did you know that our bodies are made up of approximately 55-75% water? Babies and children have more water as a percentage in their bodies than adults and as a result can become dehydrated more quickly. Dehydration is a health risk for all but especially for the young and old.
Water is important for our body’s functions for many reasons. It regulates our body’s temperature while helping to keep us cool and carries other nutrients and oxygen to our cells. Water also provides a cushion for our joints and reduces fluid retention in our body. When drinking water with a meal, it helps to give a feeling of fullness. Water helps prevent constipation and strengthens our muscles. A person who is physically exerting themselves and actively sweating should drink water every 15-20 minutes during activity and at the end of the activity to maintain good hydration. Water has no calories; is thirst quenching; free of fat, cholesterol and caffeine; and is low in sodium. Water is needed to prevent dehydration. Dehydration is the drying out of the body due to the loss of water. Dehydration happens when our bodies loose more fluids than we take in. We all lose a little water as we breathe; sweating produces water loss as does urination and bowel movements. Fever, vomiting and diarrhea also cause our bodies to lose extra fluids. Thirst is usually the first symptom of dehydration. Other symptoms of dehydration include: muscle weakness; headache; dizziness; fatigue; dry mouth, lips and skin; no urination or a small amount of dark yellow urine.
(properly hydrated persons should urinate every 2-3 hours and urine should be a clear to pale yellow color); lightheadedness, increased body temperature; nausea, constipation and labored breathing. The following are suggestions to help you drink more water. Drink a glass of water with meals and snacks. Add flavor to your water with a slice of lemon, lime or orange. Take a water bottle along with you to enjoy throughout the day. Take a water break instead of a coffee break. Enjoy milk, fruits and vegetables throughout the day as these foods contain water and you get the added benefits of other nutrients.
Although it is rare, it is possible to drink too much water. If you are concerned about drinking too much or not enough water have your healthcare provider help you determine the amount that is best for you.