Has a doctor ever told you or your patients to “be sure you stay hydrated?” What does that mean exactly? Summer is a great time of year to take a moment and look at our options for hydration.
Let’s walk through some common questions to help address the importance of skin health and hydration.
1. Why do you need to drink so much water, anyway?
Water makes up 60 percent of our body weight! Water helps to lubricate joints, transport nutrients to cells, remove waste products, regulate body temperature, and maintain skin integrity. If our skin sunburned, we need additional hydration for healing. Water is also depleted as we perspire, so with all these bodily activities relying on it, you can see why it’s important to replenish fluids every day.
2. How much fluid do I need each day?
The Institute of Medicine has general recommendations for daily total fluid intake from beverages and foods:
- Women over age 19: approximately 2.7 liters (~90 ounces, 11.3 cups)
- Men over age 19: approximately 3.7 liters (~123 ounces, 15.4 cups)
- A rule of thumb for adequate hydration is to urinate every two to four hours. Urine should be nearly colorless. If one is active, has a chronic illness, or lives in a hot environment, needs may change. Children and women, who are pregnant or lactating, have different needs as well.
3. Do other foods and liquids count?
Mix things up by creating your own flavored waters (see recipe at the end of this post), drink low-fat or fat-free milk, and 100 percent fruit juice (4 oz. serving size). Don’t forget about foods with high water content, they also count! Cantaloupe, raw apples, and iceberg lettuce are some examples.
4. Do caffeinated beverages (including coffee, tea, and diet cola) count toward my daily fluid needs?
Yes, they can, in moderation! Up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per day can be consumed without negatively affecting overall daily hydration. An 8-ounce cup of tea typically has ~20-70 mg, coffee ~50-200 mg, and 12 oz. diet cola has ~25-70 mg of caffeine. Keep in mind many patients may have a caffeine restriction, for example, after heart surgery.
Quick tips for staying well-hydrated:
- Let your thirst be your guide. If you find yourself thirsty, you’re already dehydrated, so drink water throughout the day. Keep a glass of filtered water nearby—or if you’re on the go, in a reusable water bottle.
- Drink a glass of water or other calorie-free or low-calorie beverage with each meal, and between meals. Remember variety! Enjoy a glass of water first thing in the morning; you’ll feel more refreshed and awake. If you would benefit from a schedule, drink a small glass of water or milk at the beginning of each hour. If you’re active, drink water before, during and after exercise.
- Create your own flavored water! For a citrusy flavor, add slices of lemon, lime or orange to filtered water and refrigerate. There are endless combinations of fruits, herbs and even veggies, like cucumber, you can use to flavor water. You don’t need a fancy pitcher!
- Refresh with lemonade. Try adding half water and half lemonade to your glass, and think of it as lemon water instead of diluted lemonade.
Lastly, a recipe to get you motivated: Pineapple Mint Infused Water
Add a sprig of mint to an empty pitcher or jar—throw in the whole sprig or just the leaves. Muddle the mint (can use the back of a spoon or muddler). Bruise the leaves and release their flavor; don’t pulverize them into bits. Add pineapple pieces, press and twist to release juices. Top with ice, add water. Stir, cover and refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes.
Healthy hydration can be easy and enjoyable if you sip on healthy beverages and eat a balanced diet throughout the day. What are your go-to simple summer hydration tips? Share your tips below.