How are you beating the heat this summer? Living in Louisiana, we know the heat can be pretty intense; therefore, it is extremely important to stay hydrated. Our bodies need water to maintain and function properly. So, how much do we really need?
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, there are many factors including age, gender, activity level, and overall health that determine how much water we need. The recommendations were created for generally healthy people based on age and gender. For women, the recommended amount is about 11.5 cups per day and for men, it is recommended about 15.5 cups per day. This also includes the 20% that is consumed from other foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables and beverages such as skim milk, tea, and other unsweetened drinks.
How do you know if you are staying hydrated? One way to know is by checking the color of your urine. If it is a dark yellow or amber color it may mean that you need to increase the amount of water you are consuming. Signs of dehydration can be mild such as irritability or inability to concentrate. Other symptoms can include headache, dizziness, or even digestion problems.
What about sugary beverages and sports drinks? Sugary drinks are okay to have in moderation; however, they are not ideal to quench your thirst. When it comes to hydration, sports drinks should be used for those engaging in moderate to high-intensity exercises that are longer than an hour, those that may experience an illness that causes fluid loss such as diarrhea or fever, and for those working in humid conditions.
How can we increase our water intake? Try keeping a bottle of water or a refillable jug, glass, or container with you throughout the day. You are more likely to drink it if you see it. Consume foods that have a high-water content such as strawberries, watermelon, lettuce, cucumbers, and cantaloupe, just to name a few. Even dairy products such as fat-free milk, yogurt, cottage cheese and ricotta cheese have a high-water content. If you feel water is too plain, add fresh fruit, vegetables, or fresh herbs to enhance the flavor. If you need a little fizzle, try sparkling water to fill the bubbly void.
If consuming water is a challenge for you, I would encourage you to start slow. Drink a glass of water before one of your meals or set a reminder on your phone to drink a glass of water at a certain time. Tracking your progress will help to accomplish your goal. Over time, you may find yourself consuming more water throughout the day. Remember, beat the heat, and stay hydrated!
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture