Spe­cial Re­port

To stay healthy and hy­drated this sum­mer, get high on wa­ter along with other smart sip­ping choices.

Health & Nutrition - - CONTENTS -

To stay hy­drated this sum­mer, keep sip­ping

Ev­ery cell in your body needs wa­ter to func­tion. Wa­ter trans­ports nu­tri­ents and oxy­gen through­out the body, and car­ries away waste ma­te­ri­als. Wa­ter makes up most of your body, rang­ing from about 75% of body weight in in­fancy to 55% of body weight at older ages. Your brain and heart are al­most three-quar­ters wa­ter, your mus­cles and kid­neys are al­most 80% wa­ter, and even your bones are about 30% wa­ter. Sum­mer is an im­por­tant time to keep your body’s fluid needs in mind. For older adults, there is the risk of sub­tle de­hy­dra­tion in hot weather, lead­ing to light­head­ed­ness and falls. For stay­ing hy­drated, wa­ter is king. The best ap­proach is to be sure to eat reg­u­lar meals – food has plenty of nat­u­ral and added salt, which you lose when sweat­ing – and drink plenty of wa­ter. Fruits like wa­ter­melon, grapes etc are great op­tions, too. Sports drinks like Ga­torade should be avoided, un­less you’re en­gaged in ex­tended vig­or­ous ac­tiv­ity in hot weather. And, of course, sug­ared so­das, sweet­ened ice tea and en­ergy drinks are an ‘ab­so­lute no’. The added sug­ars in these bev­er­ages come with lit­tle or no ben­e­fi­cial nu­tri­ents and plenty of risk for weight gain and di­a­betes.

BEYOND THIRST

Older peo­ple of­ten have a re­duced sen­sa­tion of thirst, so it’s eas­ier to miss the warn­ing signs that you’re be­com­ing de­hy­drated. Older in­di­vid­u­als also tend to have lower re­serves of fluid in the body, may eat less reg­u­larly (and there­fore con­sume less sodium), and may drink in­suf­fi­cient wa­ter fol­low­ing fluid de­pri­va­tion to re­plen­ish the body’s wa­ter deficit. Be­cause of this, older peo­ple may need to pay more at­ten­tion to their fluid in­take, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing hot weather, and plan to drink reg­u­larly even when not thirsty. The Ad­e­quate In­take (AI) of fluid – wa­ter from all food and bev­er­age sources – for men over the age of 50 years is 3.7 litres a day, which in­cludes about 13 cups from bev­er­ages in­clud­ing wa­ter; the rest is typ­i­cally ob­tained from food. For women over the age of 50 years, the AI is 2.7 litres a day, with about nine cups com­ing from wa­ter and other bev­er­ages. So you ac­tu­ally need more than the pop­u­lar no­tion of eight glasses of flu­ids a day – but it doesn’t have to be all wa­ter.

Since your brain is about threeit’s quar­ters wa­ter, not sur­pris­ing that stay­ing hy­drated helps your brain func­tion, too. Your brain needs wa­ter to man­u­fac­ture hor­mones and ers. neu­ro­trans­mitt

In ad­di­tion to drink­ing plenty of wa­ter and other healthy liq­uids to avoid de­hy­dra­tion this sum­mer, you can ac­tu­ally re­duce your risk by ex­er­cis­ing reg­u­larly. Fit peo­ple of any age do sweat more, keep­ing the body cool, but also have more di­luted sweat, los­ing fewer elec­trolytes as they per­spire.

FLUID FACTS

An­other rea­son older peo­ple need to be more aware of their body’s fluid needs is that they are less able to com­pen­sate for the in­creased blood thick­ness that re­sults from the loss of wa­ter through sweat­ing. Then there are the kid­neys, which play a key role in regulating the body’s fluid balance. Your kid­neys work more ef­fi­ciently when the body has plenty of wa­ter. De­prived of ad­e­quate flu­ids, the kid­neys must work harder and are more stressed. Other ways in which your body uses wa­ter in­clude: Mak­ing saliva for food con­sump­tion and di­ges­tion. Keep­ing mu­cosal mem­branes moist; these in­clude mem­branes in your mouth, nose, eye­lids, wind­pipe and lungs, stom­ach and in­testines, and uri­nary sys­tem. Serv­ing as a ‘shock ab­sorber’ for your brain and spinal cord. Trans­port­ing nu­tri­ents and oxy­gen through­out the body and re­mov­ing waste. Lu­bri­cat­ing your joints. Since your brain is about three-quar­ters wa­ter, it’s not sur­pris­ing that stay­ing hy­drated helps your brain func­tion, too. Your brain needs wa­ter to man­u­fac­ture hor­mones and neu­ro­trans­mit­ters. If you suf­fer from os­teoarthri­tis (the most com­mon form), you can help fight the in­flam­ma­tion as­so­ci­ated with that dis­ease by stay­ing hy­drated. The Arthri­tis Foun­da­tion rec­om­mends ‘pre­hy­drat­ing’ – drink­ing wa­ter be­fore you ex­er­cise, not just af­ter you’ve worked up a sweat – to help peo­ple with arthri­tis en­gage in phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity with less dis­com­fort. In­creas­ing fluid in­take may also help re­duce the re­cur­rence of gout. Ac­cord­ing to the ex­perts in ‘Nutri­tion Re­views’, in­ad­e­quate fluid con­sump­tion is touted as a com­mon cul­prit in con­sti­pa­tion, and in­creas­ing fluid in­take is a fre­quently rec­om­mended treat­ment. This sum­mer and all year long, you can help keep your­self healthy and hy­drated by avoid­ing the ex­tra calo­ries of sug­ary drinks and opt­ing in­stead for the in­ex­pen­sive and ubiq­ui­tous choice of plain H O.

The best ap­proach is to be sure to eat reg­u­lar meals – food has plenty of nat­u­ral and added salt, which you lose when sweat­ing – and drink plenty of wa­ter. Fruits like wa­ter­melon, grapes etc are great op­tions, too.

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