Summer Hydration for Adults & Kids
“Stay hydrated. Drink more water. 8 glasses a day.” There’s nothing new or revolutionary about the concept of proper hydration. Yet, up to 75% of Americans may suffer from chronic dehydration, according to Dr. Roberta Lee from the Institute of Medicine. 30% of people aged 65 years or older who are hospitalized show signs of dehydration. And, recent Harvard studies show that about 25% of kids don’t drink water on a daily basis at all.
Why is it so important to stay hydrated?
Whether you’re a serious athlete, a recreational exerciser, or just an average Joe or Jill, giving your the right amount of water throughout the day is critical. When you are exercising, it is especially important because it helps to regulates your body temperature and lubricate your joints. Not to mention that water transports nutrients to give you energy and helps keep you healthy.
On that note, dehydration has serious adverse effects on the human body.
• Fatigue – Water is the most vital energy source in the body. Skip the energy drink. Go for H2O instead. If you’re not properly hydrated, your body can’t perform at its highest level. You may experience fatigue, muscle cramps, dizziness, or more serious symptoms.
• High Blood Pressure – Blood is normally about 92% water. The less water your body has to work with, the thicker your blood becomes, resulting in elevated blood pressure. Be heart smart and drink the water your body needs.
• Asthma & Allergies – A body in state of dehydration naturally begins to restrict airways as a means to conserve water. It will also begin to exponentially produce more and more histamine as the body loses more and more water.
• Skin Disorders – Dehydration impairs the elimination of toxins through the skin. This leaves us susceptible to all types skin disorders, including dermatitis and psoriasis.
• Digestive Dysfunction – Water shortage and alkaline minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, can lead to ulcers, acid reflux, gastritis and more.
• High Cholesterol – A dehydrated body begins to produce more cholesterol to prevent water loss from the cells.
Is anyone thirsty yet? Just checking…
• Bladder and/or Kidney Issues – Bacteria thrive in bladders and kidneys that have not been properly hydrated to flush toxins and acid waste through them.
• Constipation – Without adequate water, the large intestines move waste much more slowly, if at all.
• Joint Pain – Hey you! Yeah you, superstar power-lifters, fitness fanatics, running 5k everyday… This one might be of special interest to all you, who we care for very much.
The cartilage padding between around our joints is composed primarily of water. When a body becomes dehydrated, cartilage is weakened. Activity becomes painful, joint damage is imminent and repair is slow. So when you suit up to do the activities you love, make sure a bottle of water is always part of your gear. Your future awesome self will thank you for it!
• Weight Gain – Again with the toxins! Are we starting to sound like a broken, dehydrated, record yet? Without proper hydration our bodies cannot flush the toxins from our system effectively. To get back at us, you wanna know where it stores those toxins? Yes, you guessed it, in our fat cells. Okay, so we made the part up about it being retribution but it is a scientific fact that dehydrated bodies store fat. Soak that in while you enjoy a cold glass of water.
• Premature Aging – Not only does our largest organ, the skin, begin to show its age prematurely when dehydrated; our internal organs also wrinkle and wither. We have a long way to go with these parts and replacements aren’t easy to come by. Drinking 8 glasses of water per day is a far easier price to pay.
Are You Getting Enough?
Make sure you’re staying properly hydrated by checking your urine. If your urine is consistently colorless or light yellow, you are likely staying well hydrated. A sign of dehydration is dark yellow or amber-colored urine.
How much water should I drink while exercising?
You need to increase your water intake when exercising. How much more depends on sweat rate, heat, humidity and intensity of your workout. There are no exact rules for how much water to drink while exercising because everyone is different.
The American Council on Exercise has suggested the following basic guidelines for drinking water before, during, and after exercise:
Drink 17 to 20 oz. water 2 to 3 hours before you start exercising.
Drink 8 oz. water 20 to 30 minutes before you start exercising or during warm-up
Drink 7 to 10 oz. of water every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise
Drink 8 oz. of water no more than 30 minutes after you exercise
How Much Water Should My Kid Drink?
It’s a hot summer day, the kids are running in and hot of the house. You are busy getting them to and from one activity to another. Throw in soccer practice and the nightly game of neighborhood kickball. They still have energy but have they had enough water for all of that activity? Probably not.
The Institute of Medicine recommends that children ages 4 to 8 drink about 2 quarts a day. That amount goes up as they get older, with 3.5 quarts a day recommended for teenage boys and 2.4 quarts a day for teenage girls. But that doesn't necessarily account for the hours playing tag with the Joneses.
"When children are outside and its hot and humid, they need to drink more," says Stella Volpe, chair of the Department of Nutrition Sciences at Drexel University and member of the panel who set the recommendations. "Their sweating mechanisms aren't as well developed as in adults so they could tend to overheat faster."
Here’s the answer you’ve always wanted to ask an expert… Does juice count?
Yes! All liquids in beverages and foods are included in a child's daily fluid intake. "Watermelon, soups, a milkshake, all count toward water needs because there's water in all those foods," says Volpe. "But we do want children to choose healthier beverages." In most cases, medical experts agree that water is the best drink for hydrating kids. "Many parents think the first thing they should reach for is the sports drinks," says Dr. Patrice Evers, a pediatrician at Tulane University School of Medicine. "But really it should be water, unless your child is in the more elite athlete category."
Signs of Dehydration for All Ages
Dehydration happens when you lose more fluid than you drink. When your body doesn’t have enough water, it can’t work properly. Dehydration can range from mild to severe. Symptoms of dehydration can include the following:
• Less frequent urination
Dizziness or lightheaded feeling
Nausea or vomiting
Lack of sweating
Hard, fast heartbeat
Severe dehydration can include mental confusion, weakness, and loss of consciousness. Get emergency medical attention immediately if you have any of these symptoms.