How to Stay Hydrated This Summer

As the weather starts to warm up, it is extra important to make sure that you are getting enough fluid to stay hydrated. Water makes up 50-70% of our body weight. The body needs water to keep joints lubricated, protect our organs and tissues, assist with digestion and removal of waste, and to regulate our body temperature. While the age old advice of eight cups of water a day has been drilled into most of our heads, this amount might not actually be appropriate for everyone.

One of the factors that can influence the amount of fluid you need is age. The National Academy of Medicine recommends the following:

  • 1-3 years: 4 cups per day
  • 4-8 years: 5 cups per day
  • 9-13 years: 7-8 cups per day
  • 14-18 years: 8-11 cups per day
  • 19 years and older (men): ~13 cups per day
  • 19 years and older (women): ~9 cups per day
  • Pregnant women: ~10 cups per day
  • Breastfeeding women: ~13 cups per day

These are just guidelines. Individuals who are physically active, live in hot or humid climates, or who are experiencing nausea/vomiting and fevers may need even more fluid to stay hydrated. Certain disease states can also increase dehydration risk as these individuals may sweat or urinate more often. These include chronic kidney disease, uncontrolled or untreated diabetes, and cystic fibrosis. There are also many medications that can increase risk of dehydration including (but certainly not limited to) diuretics, anticholinergic medications sometimes used to treat COPD, ACE inhibitors used for blood pressure, Jardiance, laxatives, some chemotherapy drugs, and some antipsychotic medications.

Dehydration occurs when the amount of fluid lost is greater than the amount that we are taking in. Fluid can be lost through sweat, diarrhea or vomiting, and urination. While it may seem obvious, a simple indicator that we might be dehydrated is thirst. Older individuals may be at a higher risk of dehydration as they can sometimes lose their sense of thirst and therefore may not drink enough. Other signs of dehydration to watch for include dry mouth, dark urine, sweating less than normal, fatigue, dizziness, dry skin, constipation, headaches, and irritability/depression. We can start showing symptoms even with very mild dehydration. Symptoms of severe dehydration can include confusion, rapid heart rate or breathing, and fainting. For those with infants, signs to look out for include dry mouth/tongue, irritability and crying without tears, lack of wet diapers for greater than three hours, sunken appearance to eyes, unusual sleepiness, and fevers.

Keeping hydrated doesn’t necessarily mean you need to chug water 24/7. In a healthy diet, about 20% of our fluid needs can be met by food. Fruits and vegetables often have a high water content, cucumbers actually have the highest water content of any solid food. Other good hydration options include soups (be mindful of sodium content), carbonated water, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, and frozen fruit bars. Sports drinks can also be helpful when doing prolonged or strenuous physical activity that causes you to sweat a lot but are likely not necessary otherwise. Although coffee and tea have long been accused of causing dehydration, this is actually controversial. Some studies have shown that the water content in these caffeinated favorites outweighs the diuretic effect unless high levels of caffeine are consumed. Sugar-sweetened beverages, ice cream, and popsicles can also be used but in moderation. Other helpful tips include carrying a water bottle with you, purchasing a bottle with a fluid tracker on the side, and using a fluid tracking app.

No matter how you choose to stay hydrated, stay safe and enjoy the warm weather! And if you need help with hydration, or any other part of your nutrition, working with a PUSH511 Nutrition Coach can help!

About the Author

Cristen Headshot

I am a Licensed Registered Dietitian with experience in critical care, cardiology, weight loss, allergy services, and food service. I graduated from Penn State University with a BS in nutrition and finished my RD training at the University of Maryland. I am currently in PA school and am looking forward to combining my love of nutrition with medicine. After moving to Baltimore in 2019, I did a trial class at PUSH511 Fitness as I was looking for accountability and to meet new people. When I walked into the gym for the first time, everyone was congregated on one side cheering on a member who was struggling with ring muscle-ups at the end of the workout. It was such an uplifting moment to witness. I left the gym that day in dire need of ginger ale, but also very excited about this amazing and supportive community I had stumbled upon. I am grateful for this opportunity to give back and share my love of nutrition!


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