Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Drink in These Summer Hydration Tips

When it’s all around us, we may take it for granted, but when we don’t have it, we can only live about 100 hours. Yes, that’s right – we’re talking about water. Some of us are very good at remembering to drink it regularly. Others not so much. Here are some quick tips to help you stay hydrated this summer, and enjoy the cookouts, beach weeks, outdoor fun and more.

Why is it important to stay hydrated in the summer?

Although dehydration can happen at any time of the year, summer is an important time to remember to stay hydrated. Warmer temperatures mean our bodies are more likely to lose more moisture as we are active and sweating - the body’s way of cooling itself down through evaporation.

The health effects of dehydration - even mild dehydration - can take a toll: mentally, physically and emotionally. Our bodies depend on water. It is critical to our blood, brains, digestion and other functions.

How much water do I need to drink each day?

There are conflicting answers. The debate comes down to counting cups or following your thirst.

Everyone has heard of the “six to eight cups per day.” Lately, though, scientists have presented evidence that listening to your body’s cue may be a better indicator than counting cups. That cue is called “thirst.”

For people who absolutely have to have a number, there’s an equation to calculate how much water you should drink per day. Take your body weight, divide it by half and then translate that number to ounces. If you weigh 120 pounds, half of that would be 60, so 60 ounces. That’s 7.5 U.S. cups.

How do I really know how much water I should drink?

The best advice is probably somewhere in between a math equation, counting cups (or bottles) and listening to your thirst. Drink water when you’re the slightest bit thirsty, but not too much water (yes, you can drink too much water - it’s called water intoxication.)

Be aware of the circumstances that can cause dehydration. Factors that influence water needs include exercise, illness and pregnancy. It’s also a good idea to always keep a reusable water bottle with you throughout the day so that you can easily drink when you feel thirsty, but without worrying about meeting a quota.

When is the best time to drink water in the day?

You’ll see lots of articles about whether to drink before meals or not, or whether water is good for digestion or dilutes the digestive juices. Don’t worry too much and follow your body’s cues. The best time to drink water is throughout the day, when you are thirsty. Drink a big glass right when you wake up to give your body a fresh drink after long hours without any liquids. Drinking water first thing in the morning will give you energy to start your day’s adventure.

Does age affect how much water I should drink?

According to the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the very young and the elderly are at greatest risk of dehydration. The elderly are more likely to suffer from cognitive effects of even mild dehydration, and many elderly patients who arrive at clinics experiencing confusion may be dehydrated.

Children are at greater risk for different reasons: their ratio of skin to body volume is greater than adults (about 50 percent greater), so they need to sweat more to stay cool. This means kids lose more water when they experience the same heat as adults. We can all help by encouraging our friends and loved ones - no matter how old - to drink plenty of water, especially during the hot summer months.

How do I know if I’m dehydrated?

Pay careful attention to your body. Learn to recognize the subtle cues of dehydration: fatigue, headaches, low urine volume. One quick way to monitor your hydration is by quickly checking your skin elasticity. Lightly pinch the skin on the back of the hand and hold it tented for a few seconds. Then release. If the skin quickly springs back into place, you’re hydrated. If the skin returns very slowly to its natural position, you could be suffering from some degree of dehydration.

If you or someone you love struggles with affordable access to medicines, there are resources available that may be able to help: The Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA) helps connect patients with patient assistance programs that provide free or nearly free prescription medicines. For more information, visit www.pparx.org.