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National Restaurant Association - Hydration: A key factor to overall health

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Hydration: A key factor to overall health

The National Restaurant Association’s Director of Nutrition & Healthy Living Joy Dubost, Ph.D., R.D., provides regular commentary on the NRA News blog. In her latest "Ask the Nutritionist," she discusses the importance of hydration.

School is officially out and that means summer fun is soon to captivate the minds of all very quickly. In the quest to soak up as much sun as possible and enjoy the pleasant weather, do not forget the important role hydration has in summer activities.

Summer heat can impact health in many ways, and if not careful it can lead to missing out on your favorite seasonal interests.  Here are some tips from The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics you can use to avoid dehydration and keep safe this summer:

  • Keep the intense physical activity down during the hottest points of the day.
  • Larger individuals sweat more and should drink more water to replace the lost body water.
  • Men sweat more than women, and should be aware of the extra rehydration they need.
  • The longer one exercises and more one exercises will increase perspiration, so one should be mindful of these facts and drink up before, during, and after physical activity if they fit in these categories.
  • Drink sports drink if you are participating in moderate to high intense athletic activities that last an hour or more.
  • Keep rehydrating even if perspiration is not noticeable during activities like swimming. You do not have to be overheated to become dehydrated.

Being aware of the surrounding environment can keep you cool and happy this summer too. Wear clothing that keeps your body temperature from rising to uncomfortable levels. If you plan on being in the heat for long periods of time, wear lightweight and light colored clothes. In addition, do not wear headgear for extensive amounts of time as heat can get trapped and cause overheating. If you need to wear a helmet or other necessary head protection, try to find safe options that offer some type of ventilation to allow your head to breathe.

Here are the signs of dehydration you should be aware of before going out and seizing the summer days. If you begin or recognize anyone else experiencing any of the following heat exhaustion symptoms, seek a cool place where you or they can take a break and replenish with fluids.

Early Signs of Dehydration:

  • Thirst
  • Flushed skin
  • Premature fatigue
  • Increased body temperature
  • Faster breathing and pulse rate
  • Increased perception of effort
  • Decreased exercise capacity

 Later Signs:

  • Dizziness
  • Increased weakness
  • Labored breathing with exercise

Ignoring these symptoms can lead to heat stroke and keep you from doing what you enjoy this summer, so drink fluids throughout the day to stay ahead of dehydration.

When it comes to daily amounts of water needed for the human body, here are some guidelines according to the Institute of Medicine:

  • Children 1-8 yrs. old: 1.3-1.7 liters per day (infants just under a liter per day)
  • Males 9-18 yrs. old: 2.4-3.3 liter per day
  • Males above 18 yrs. old: 3.7 liters per day
  • Females 9-18 yrs. old: 2.1-2.3 liters per day
  • Females above 18 yrs. old: 2.7 liters per day
  • Women who are pregnant: 3 liters per day
  • Women breastfeeding: 3.7 liters per day

These daily recommended water intake values take into account water one would get from the food in their diets in combination with drinkable water. For reference, a liter is just a little more than four 8 oz. cups.

Finally, the summer season is a time to enjoy yourself, but make sure you monitor your intake of more indulgent, calorically rich refreshments as these can quickly add to your overall daily caloric needs.  When focusing on hydration and rehydrating, it is important to stick to water and even low-calorie sports drinks that will help replenish the fluids and necessities your body loses during activities in the summer weather.

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