Feature Articles: Health
Summer heat increases your need for fluids
Tammy Roberts, MS, RD, LD, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, University of Missouri Extension
When the weather heats up you probably notice you are sweating a lot more than you did all winter. Sweating is the body’s way of naturally cooling itself. Keep in mind that your body is actually losing fluids as you sweat so it is important to replace the fluid lost.
Water makes up about 60 percent of your body’s weight and is an important part of many body processes. Besides helping to regulate body temperature, water is present in every cell in the body and helps protect some body tissues. Water helps to transport nutrients and helps with elimination of waste.
By the time you become thirsty, you may have already lost 2 percent of your body fluid. Mild dehydration is when you have lost two to five percent of your body fluids. Symptoms of mild dehydration include thirst, dry mouth and throat, rapid pulse, low blood pressure, weakness or lack of energy, and reduced quantity of urine. When there is a fluid loss of more than 5 percent, the body has severe reactions which include pale skin; bluish fingertips and lips; rapid, shallow breathing; weak, irregular pulse; and confusion or disorientation. It can result in shock, seizures, coma and death. (Nutrition Concepts and Controversies, Frances Sizer, Eleanor Whitney)
A person who burns about 2,000 calories should get about 8-12 cups of fluid per day. (Most women burn less than 2,000 calories and men working outside would burn more.) That may sound like a lot to drink, but it doesn't all have to come from drinking water. Many of the foods we eat are made up of a high percentage of water and that counts as a portion of the 8-12 cups of fluid that is needed. Celery, cucumber, lettuce and summer squash are 90-95 percent water. Grapefruit, strawberries, broccoli and tomato are 90-94 percent water, and milk, yogurt, egg white, fruit juices, apples and carrots are 80-89 percent water.
An important thing to keep in mind is that the thirst mechanism can become weak in senior citizens so they may need to implement a way of assuring they drink enough. Some people pour a pitcher of six or so cups of water in the morning and assure they drink it by the time they go to bed. Others find a way of keeping track of the number of cups of water they consume each day.
At the other end of the life span is children who often don’t honor thirst cues. It is important to assure they are drinking enough fluids. A good gauge of hydration is the color of their urine. A dark color is an indicator they are not drinking enough.
Summer is a great time for many outdoor activities. Just remember that if you are sweating, that precious fluid needs to be replaced. Next time you leave the house, don’t forget your water bottle!
Last update: Monday, June 25, 2012