Eight glasses a day

Keep the dehydration doctor away by keeping up your fluids

With the arrival of summer, dehydration takes center stage as an often-neglected health hazard. Spending long days outside and taking in the sunshine is best punctuated with regularly consuming plenty of fluids over the course of the day.

Many health issues can arise as a result of dehydration. Dry skin, irritability, headaches and fatigue are common occurrences when our bodies are not getting enough water. Severe dehydration can lead to cramping, low blood pressure, heart failure and, in extreme cases, death.

The World Health Organization has identified dehydration as the cause of nearly two million child fatalities each year worldwide.

Try to make it a habit to keep a bottle of water nearby at all times while you are out there soaking up the sun. The physical act of keeping it close by will remind you to drink fluids on a continual basis. Also, remembering to bring along a big bottle of water on out-of-town excursions prevents you from becoming dehydrated if you unexpectedly do not have access to any other fluids.

By the time you start to feel thirsty you are already dehydrated.

Plain water can become boring even to people with the most ardent dedication to hydration but there are ways to keep hydrated beyond ordinary water. Consider adding a slice of lemon or lime to your glass of water for flavour as well.

Although most medical professionals recommend we consume eight glasses (or two litres) of water a day, it really translates to the equivalent of eight glasses of fluids a day. This means that 100 per cent pure juice, milk, tea with little or no caffeine, soup and fruits and vegetables with a high percentage of water all contribute to your daily fluid needs.

Keep in mind that juice should be reserved as an occasional treat and that it is not the healthiest choice for fluid intake. Those who enjoy playing sports may believe that if their energy levels decrease they require an energy drink to supplement their performance, but in reality keeping hydrated with basic water is the best choice. If you need an extra burst of energy a piece of fruit will provide both sugar and fluids to keep your body going.

Food or beverages that are high in caffeine or contain alcohol are diuretics. When we consume these products it is important to take in extra amounts of water to re-hydrate. Additional water is also required if we participate in physical activity.

By the time you start to feel thirsty you are already dehydrated. Keep up your fluid intake throughout the day by carrying a bottle of water around with you and by snacking on fruit and vegetables with high water content. Staying hydrated will allow you to enjoy the heat and sunshine all summer long.

Published in Volume 63, Number 28 of The Uniter (June 18, 2009)

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