By Angela K. Phillips, RND, LRD, Clinical Dietitian, Trinity Health
Summer is here and with heat and activities, staying hydrated becomes increasingly important. Water is one of the body’s most essential nutrients. Water makes up about 60 percent of the body and plays a role in all body functions. Water helps to regulate body temperature, transport nutrients and oxygen to cells, and carry waste products away. It also lubricates joints and body tissues and helps maintain blood volume. We lose water during normal body processes such as urination, bowel movements, and sweating.
Dehydration occurs when you lose or use more fluid than you take in and your body does not have enough fluid to complete normal body functions. If you do not replace those lost fluids, you become dehydrated. Signs of dehydration are thirst, flushed skin, headaches, dizziness, digestion problems, increased weakness, and faster pulse rate or breathing. Kids are more likely than adults to become dehydrated, since kids sweat less and generate more body heat. Their cooling systems are not as effective as adults either.
Guidelines recommend encouraging kids to drink water every 15 minutes, even when they are not thirsty; once they become thirsty, they are already on their way to dehydration. It is also important to increase water intake when it is hot out, during physical activity, or if a child is wearing any protective gear during activities.
Be aware of your hydration status by monitoring your urine color. Pale yellow or lemonade color urine indicates proper hydration whereas dark yellow or amber urine may indicate dehydration and need to increase fluids. Drink water before, during, and after activities. Even swimming activities require extra fluid because swimmers sweat too, even though you might not be able to see it.
Water intake recommendations for adults and kids vary based on age, gender, and activity level. Women also may require more water per day while breastfeeding and during pregnancy, whereas other health conditions, such as congestive heart failure or renal disease, may require restrictions in water intake. In general, women are recommended to consume about 11.5 cups per day and men are recommended to consume 15.5 cups per day. Kids need about 7-14 cups per day. This may seem like a lot of water to consume, but typically about 20 percent of water consumed comes from food intake. With that in mind, women should try to drink 9 cups per day and men about 12.5 cups per day.
To help increase water consumption, try increasing fruit and vegetable intake, which are higher in water content. Consume water with meals and in between meals. Add things to enhance the flavor of the water such as fresh or frozen fruit, lemon or lime juice, and mint or basil leaves. You can also put your kids’ favorite fruits on skewers and in the water glass to add more flavor and allow the kids to have fun stirring their water with the fruit skewer. Look for sparkling or bubbly waters that have no added sugars for a little more flavor without the extra calories. Find a reusable water bottle you love and carry this with you all the time so that you have easy access to fluids throughout the day.
Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (Eatright.org)
Tips for Infusing Water
- Add fruit, spices, and/or herbs to the bottom of a sealable bottle or a 1-quart mason jar.
- Pour in cold water and stir to mix well.
- Infuse at room temperature for 1-2 hours or refrigerated for about 3-4 hours; infusing for up to 8 hours will make it stronger if you prefer that.
- If citrus peel like lemons and limes are added, those can get bitter after just 5-6 hours.
- Frozen fruit can be used but will not be as flavorful and will break down more than fresh fruit.
- If you prefer carbonated water, just replace the water with carbonated, sparkling water and drink it right away so that it stays bubbly.
- If you didn’t get to drinking your water within 12 hours, remove the fruit prior to storing so the flavor does not become too powerful and overwhelming; store up to a few days.
Adapted from: https://www.asweetpeachef.com/infused-water-recipes/