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Drink Up! The Importance of Staying Hydrated

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Did you know that more than sixty percent of the average human body weight is water? It’s true–our bodies depend on water to function properly and keep us feeling our best. Without enough water, we experience dehydration, a condition with serious health consequences. Unfortunately, dehydration is a common senior health risk. Because older adults tend to be less perceptive to the feeling of thirst, they are more likely to limit their water intake and become dehydrated as a result. Certain medications may also cause side effects that inhibit an older adult’s ability to keep their fluid levels in balance.   

Especially as we approach the hot summer months, it’s important to stay hydrated to avoid the dangers of dehydration. Here are some hydration tips that will help you stay safe and healthy all summer long.

Add a splash of flavor to your water

If you don’t like the taste of plain water, try adding some interest by infusing your water with fresh fruits or herbs. Some fun flavor combinations to try include cucumber-mint, blackberry-lemon, and strawberry-basil. Fruit-infused water is a healthy, refreshing alternative to sugary juices and sodas.

Choose water-rich fruits and veggies

Drinking water isn’t the only way to get your daily dose of H2O. One great “hydration hack” is to eat your water by consuming water-rich foods. There are many different fruits and vegetables that have a high water content, such as watermelon, celery, lettuce, cucumber, grapefruit, zucchini, and strawberries.

Always drink before, during, and after you exercise

When you work out, you need to drink plenty of water to replace the water you sweat out and prevent the risk of dehydration. Especially if you’re doing any sort of outdoor activity in warm weather, you should be sipping on water throughout your workout and after it’s over. The hotter the environment you’re exercising in, the more your body will need to sweat, and the greater your chances of becoming dehydrated. If you don’t replenish your water supply, your body could overheat, leading to serious side effects like dizziness and fainting, heat stroke, or even kidney failure.

Start drinking water with your morning coffee

Caffeine has diuretic effects, which can cause your fluid levels to fluctuate and increase your chances of becoming dehydrated. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to give up caffeine entirely–just be sure to sip a glass of water after every cup of coffee or tea that you drink. 

Make a schedule for drinking water

If you have a hard time remembering to drink enough water, try setting a schedule for hitting your hydration goals. For example, plan to drink a glass of water at the top of each hour. Or, make it your goal to drink a certain amount of water before or during each meal. Another way to stay hydrated is by keeping water near you at all times. If you bring a refillable water bottle with you everywhere you go, you’ll always be reminded to drink up!

Beyond preventing dehydration, staying hydrated can also offer significant health benefits, including a reduced risk of urinary tract infections and certain cancers such as bladder or colorectal cancer. One study even found that older adults who stay well-hydrated may lower their risk of experiencing falls.

Wondering how much water you should drink each day? One method to determine how much water you need every day is to take one-third of your body weight (in pounds) and drink the same number of ounces of water daily. However, certain factors may require you to increase your water intake beyond this amount. For instance, if the weather is very hot or if you’ve been exercising, you may need to drink more water than usual to rehydrate. Avoid waiting until you feel thirsty to drink water; by then, you may already be experiencing mild dehydration. If you are unsure about how much water to drink each day, talk to your doctor to find out what is best for you. 

Written by Bethany Village

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