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Hydrate this Summer

Dianne Douglas
The University of Florida Extension

You can feel it; the heat and humidity of summer have arrived! With temperatures in the mid 90's, you can feel the difference and know this will be a daily experience for the next few months. In the heat of summer, we forget how quickly a person can become dehydrated.  During these days of high temperatures, you need to be cautious about dehydration which can lead to serious complications. Water, an essential nutrient, is the best and easiest choice to keep hydrated during the summer heat.

Drinking water throughout the day is especially important in our hot Florida weather. Normal everyday activity will produce a loss of 8 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 9 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 fluid.

Dietitians recommend most of a person's fluid needs should be met by drinking water. To ensure an adequate amount, drink a minimum amount of 8 cups of water each day.  The rest of your fluid requirements can be met from other food sources like 100% juice and milk. Even fruits and vegetables help hydrate, watermelon, for example, is an excellent source of water. Be aware, however, caffeinated beverages (tea and coffee) and soda do not increase your body fluid because the caffeine in these drinks acts as a diuretic and actually causes a 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 in nutrition suggest the following:

Start your day drinking a glass of water.

Carry water with you at all times; drink frequently.

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.

If you are outside working or exercising, carry a bottle of water and be sure to take a drink often.

The University of Florida Extension – Madison County is an Equal Employment Opportunity Institution.

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