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August 2015

Hydrate for Health: How Much Fluid Do You Really Need?

Your body contains approximately 60% water, with every cell in the body dependent on it.  Water is needed to:  transport essential nutrients, cushion joints and organs, maintain body temperature and electrolyte balance, and eliminate waste.  During the hot summer months water is even more important since water cools the body through sweating. With all of these vital roles, your daily fluid intake has a major impact on your health.

How Much Fluid Is Needed?
Would you drive your car low on fluids? Don’t operate your body low on water!

Each day water is lost through respiration, perspiration and elimination.  Inadequate water leads to dehydration and impaired body functions.  Mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you feel tired, lead to balance problems, constipation, urinary tract infection, kidney failure and slower wound healing.

Adequate fluid intake is about 13 cups (100 oz.) for men and 9 cups (74 oz.) for women.  More fluid may be needed due to:
Activity Level
Your Health
Fiber Intake
Medications
Where You Live 

According to the Institute of Medicine, about 80% of total water comes from beverages and 20% from food. Cantaloupe, tomatoes and strawberries are a good source of fluid, over 90% water.

Fluids may need to be restricted due to heart, kidney or liver disease; check with your physician.

TO MAINTAIN FLUID BALANCE
Water is your best bet to maintain fluid balance since it is calorie-free, inexpensive and readily available.  Low-sodium soup, non-fat milk and other beverages provide fluids.  Keep in mind:

  • You may need more fluids if you take certain medications. Check with your pharmacist.
  • Increase fluids if you: exercise during hot summer months, eat more fiber, are constipated, prone to kidney stones, gout, urinary tract infections, or are ill with fever, vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Caffeine acts as a diuretic; limit caffeinated beverages.
  • Minimize empty calorie beverages including: soda, lemonade, and juice drinks, especially if you are diabetic or overweight.  Fruit juices, although they contain vitamins and minerals, are high in sugar.

Warning Signs of Dehydration

  • Fatigue, mood changes, dizziness,  confusion, headache, lightheadedness, muscle weakness.
  • Dry mouth or decreased salivation.
  • Urine color is dark; it should be the color of straw.

Do not wait to be thirsty, since thirst recognition declines with age.


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