With the heat and humidity levels of recent weeks, a person can quickly become dehydrated before realizing it. During these days of high temperatures, be cautious about dehydration which can lead to serious complications. Water, an essential nutrient, is the best and easiest choice to keep hydrated during summer heat. Drinking water throughout the day is especially important in our hot Florida weather. Normal everyday activity will produce a loss of eight to 12 cups of water per day; this loss needs to be replaced. Experts suggest men need 12 cups of fluids daily and women need about nine cups. Many factors, however, play a role and may increase the need for more water. Exercise, hot weather, caffeine and alcohol will increase fluid loss, which means you need to increase your intake of fluids to maintain a balance. Nutritionists recommend most of your fluid needs should be met by drinking water. To ensure an adequate amount, drink a minimum amount of eight cups of water each day. The rest of your fluid requirements can be met from other food sources like 100 percent juice and milk.
Even fruits and vegetables can help hydrate; watermelon for example is an excellent source of water. Be aware, however, caffeinated beverages (tea, coffee and soda) do not increase your body fluid because the caffeine in these drinks acts as a diuretic and actually causes water loss. Keeping hydrated is as simple as drinking plain water from the tap. Drink water throughout the day to maintain a fluid balance. Getting an adequate daily intake of water is as important to a balanced diet as eating a variety of foods from all of the food groups. Extension Specialists suggest the following:
♦ Start your day drinking a glass of water. Before you pour that first cup of coffee, drink water.
♦ Carry water with you at all times, consider investing in a water bottle and refill it often.
♦ Use water fountains in public places; take a drink whenever you see one.
♦ For every cup of caffeinated coffee, tea or soda, drink a cup of water.
♦ If you have a choice, drink decaffeinated coffee, tea or soda.
♦ In a restaurant, order a glass of water with a lemon instead of a caffeinated drink.
♦ Drink a glass of water before each meal or snack.
♦ For a refreshing dessert, add a scoop of low-fat sorbet to seltzer water.
♦ If you are outside working or exercising, carry a bottle of water and be sure to take a drink often. If you want a little flavor to your water, try mixing Citrus Water – squeeze one lemon, lime and orange into a pitcher, add ¼ cup apple juice concentrate and mix with a quart of water. For more information on eating right, contact the Madison County Extension Service.