Thursday, June 5, 2008

Water, Water Everywhere!

With the warmer weather upon us, staying hydrated is important. Our bodies consist of 60% water. Water is needed in bodily fluids to carry oxygen and nutrients to the cells, metabolize foods and carry away waste products. It also lubricates joints and regulates body temperature.

Even slight dehydration can cause fatigue and headache. Decreased and dark-colored urine, nausea, a coated tongue, muscle cramps and clammy skin are other signs of dehydration. Children and the elderly are especially vulnerable and need to be monitored to be sure they replace lost fluids.

Plain cold water is the best choice. Sugar in beverages like sodas, iced tea and fruit drinks slows absorption of the fluid. If some flavor is desired, use a squeeze of lemon or a small amount of fruit juice. Fluids with electrolytes, like sports drinks, are only needed during intensive physical activity. Otherwise, drink a cup or two of water an hour or so before your physical activity, and a half cup every 15 minutes once you or your child begins.

Don’t fall for gimmicks like fitness waters, which may have added sugars (and calories), stimulants (which cause you to urinate more), and a smattering of vitamins or herbs. The proper balance of vitamins and minerals is best obtained through whole foods, or, if needed, a multivitamin supplement.

Although 8-10 cups of water per day are recommended, water can be obtained through consuming foods with high water content. Fruits and vegetables are an excellent source. Most are 80-90% water. Eating foods with high water content also helps with weight management.

Strategies to keep hydrated include:
1. Keep a container of water by your side at work, home and in the car.
2. Locate water fountains in public places and parks and use them.
3. Choose water (with lemon, if desired) as a beverage when eating out.
4. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, soups and other moist foods.
5. Limit sodium intake, which creates thirst and causes loss of nutrients like calcium along with elimination of sodium in urine.

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