Summer heat is upon us, and it is essential to keep our bodies hydrated.  The body needs water to properly function and stay healthy.  Water helps us to maintain the right body temperature, remove waste products, and keeps our joints lubricated.  Keeping hydrated helps the body stay energized throughout the day and fights fatigue.

Maintaining good hydrationPeople often become dehydrated without even realizing it.  We must replenish the fluids that our bodies lose when we sweat and urinate.  By the time we feel thirsty, we are already dehydrated.  The best way to hydrate the body is by drinking water.  Coffee, tea, sodas, juices, and alcoholic beverages are not adequate substitutes for water.  They don’t hydrate as well, and drinks containing caffeine or alcohol may actually contribute to dehydration.

Those who exercise in hot weather must stay properly hydrated.  Children who are playing outside more in the summer need to drink extra water.  Older adults, women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, and people with certain medical conditions need plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.  It is important to recognize signs that your body is not getting enough water.  Little or no urine, darker colored urine, fatigue, extreme thirst, dry mouth, headache, confusion, and dizziness are all indicators of dehydration.

Adults, and especially seniors, need to drink at least 64 ounces of water or caffeine-free beverages each day.  The amount of water needed by children each day varies a little depending on age, weight, and gender.  A general recommendation to follow with children is that the number of 8 ounce glasses of water consumed per day be equal to their age.  This means that an 8 year old would need to drink 64 ounces of water per day.  Children who exercise or play a sport may need to drink more, especially when the weather is hot.