By Stephanie Fink, Nutrition Care Manager, Saint Simeon’s
It’s summer and the temperatures are rising. When we are hot, our body keeps us cool by sweating. As we sweat, we lose fluid and replenish the lost fluid by drinking. What if we do not drink enough to replensih the fluid?
Dehydration is the lack of fluid in the body and is caused by consuming less fluids than what is used through the body’s normal processes, such as urinating and sweating. Dehydration can be fatal because our body becomes starved for oxygen and other nutrients.
Older adults are at increased risk for dehydration. The sensation of thirst decreases in people over 50 years and continues to diminish with age. In addition, older adults have ~10% less body water than younger adults.
A few signs of dehydration are sudden: weight loss, increased heart rate, low blood pressure, dry mouth, decreased urination, constipation, nausea, sunken eyeballs, dizziness, or confusion.
It is important to consume fluids throughout the day even if you do not “feel” thirsty. The body can not store extra fluids, so we must replace fluids every day.
According to the Institute of Medicine, most women and men need about 9 and 13 cups of fluids per day, respectively, to stay well hydrated. The rest of the water that we need each day typically comes from water-containing foods like fruits and vegetables. If you are looking for something more than plain water, but without the added sugars from sweetened beverages, there are alternatives. Fruit infused water offers just a hint of flavor. Sparkling water also offers a little variety without added sugar or calories. Mineral waters, both flat and sparkling, have just enough minerals to offer a slightly different taste than plain water.
A registered dietitian or physician can better help you determine the right amount of fluids for you.