Dehydration can be a real danger in the summer months for both older adults and younger children. The summer heat causes us to perspire and breathe more heavily.
Our bodies need water to cool themselves and to feed our organs like our brain, heart and lungs. Many times dehydration goes unnoticed. Thirst is the first sign of dehydration.
Water is the best choice to hydrate. High sugared drinks like lemonade, soda and sweetened ice tea, do not allow water to get in the stomach quickly. The result may be an upset stomach or nausea, vomiting and/or a headache. Soda or a sweetened beverage in hot weather may reduce rehydration and reduce appetites for a nutritious snack or meal. Even full strength juice may cause nausea. Research has shown that drinking beverages containing more than 14 grams of carbohydrate per 8-ounce serving will decrease the rate of gastric emptying and fluid absorption. Check the food label for the number of grams of carbohydrates in an 8 oz. serving.
Children love to play and swim outdoors all day long. Often, they forget they need to take a rest and get a drink. Parents and grandparents should call rest periods in the shade and offer water to hydrate their bodies. According to a national youth study, U.S. adolescents who drink less water tended to drink less milk, eat less fruits and vegetables, drink more sugar-sweetened beverages, eat more fast food and get less physical activity.
Many times older adults do not drink enough, as well. They do not want to be bothered with going to the bathroom, and restrict their fluids during the day. Or, they just forget and don’t think about drinking until they are thirsty, which is the beginning sign of dehydration.
Water is a great choice of beverage between meals and with snacks. Add a slice of lemon, lime or orange for a bit of flavor.
Another great way to reduce dehydration in the summer months is to offer high water fruits and vegetables. Watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, along with celery, green peppers, cucumbers and tomato wedges are high water content foods. This helps children and older adults who prefer to eat rather than drink.
If you think you are not getting enough water, here are more tips from the Center for Disease Control:
• Carry a water bottle for easy access when you are at work of running errands.
• Freeze some freezer-safe water bottles. Take one with you for ice-cold water all day long.
• Substitute water for one 20-ounce sugar sweetened soda and save about 240 calories.
• Choose water when eating out and save money and reduce calories.
Here is a great way to make water taste even better.
Blueberry Orange Basil Infused Water
9 basil leaves
1 gallon of water
Squeeze the blueberries, quarter the oranges and tear the basil leaves in half before adding to the water.
Best if chilled overnight in the refrigerator before drinking. Store in the refrigerator.
Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan and Bradford counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.