NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County

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Tips for Warm Weather Hydration

Tips for Warm Weather Hydration

 

As our warm weather continues, we are reminded of how important it is to stay hydrated.  The average adult human body is 50-65% water, averaging around 57-60%. The human brain is made up of 95% water, blood is 82% and lungs 90%. The percentage of water in infants is much higher, typically around 75-78% water, dropping to 65% by one year of age.

The percent of water depends on your hydration level. People feel thirsty when they have lost around 2-3% of their body's water. Mental performance and physical coordination start to become impaired before thirst kicks in, typically around 1% dehydration. An estimated seventy-five percent of Americans experience mild, chronic dehydration on a regular basis. Pretty scary statistic for a developed country where water is readily available through the tap or bottle water.

Water is important to the mechanics of the human body. The body cannot work without it, just as a car cannot run without gas and oil. In fact, all the cell and organ functions that make up our entire anatomy and physiology depend on water for their functioning.

Water serves as a lubricant in digestion and almost all other body processes. The water in our saliva helps facilitate chewing and swallowing, ensuring that food will slide easily down the esophagus. Water also lubricates our joints and cartilages and allows them to (pardon the pun) move more fluidly. When dehydrated, the body rations water away from the joints. Less lubrication equals greater friction and that can cause joint, knee and back pain potentially leading to injuries and arthritis. Even our eyeballs need plenty of lubrication to work well and remain healthy.

Our bodies can control over-heating through perspiration from sweat glands in the skin and from evaporation which produces a cooling effect. Blood is also routed into areas close to the surface of the skin where it can be cooled and then carried back to the interior of the body. On the flip side, in a cold environment the skin maintains proper body temperature by shunting the blood away from the exterior surface thereby conserving heat within the body. The movement of water within our cellular systems also transports vital blood plasma which is 92% made of water. Blood plasma play a critical role in buffering the body’s pH, circulating antibodies from the immune system, and regulating osmotic balance which all helps to maintain proper body temperature.

          Where to find that much need hydration?  Start with water instead of sugary drinks when you’re thirsty. Regular soda, energy or sports drinks, and other sweet drinks usually contain a lot of added sugar, which provides more calories than needed. To maintain a healthy weight, sip water or other drinks with few or no calories.

Water aids in managing calories. Drink water with and between your meals. The typical American takes in about 400 calories per day through beverages—drinking water can help you manage your calories.

Make water, low-fat or fat-free milk, or 100% juice an easy option in your home.  Have ready-to-go containers filled with water or healthy drinks available in the refrigerator. Place them in lunch boxes or backpacks for easy access when kids are away from home. Depending on age, children should drink ½ to 1 cup, and adults can drink up to 1 cup of 100% fruit or vegetable juice each day. Juice should make up half or less of total recommended fruit or vegetable intake.

Don’t forget dairy.  When you choose milk or milk alternatives, select low-fat or fat-free milk or fortified soymilk. Each type of milk offers the same key nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, and potassium, but the number of calories are very different. Older children, teens, and adults need 3 cups of milk per day, while children 4 to 8 years old need 2½ cups and children 2 to 3 years old need 2 cups.

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