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