Tall Drink of Water: A Prescription for Staying Cool and Loose this Summer

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Summer is the time for fun, for stepping outside on the way to new adventures. As your sunbaked summer adventures begin, however, remember this most important nutrition tip of the season: Drink up! (Water, that is). Summer is a perfect time to pick up or keep up the water drinking habit, because proper hydration really does matter.

You’ve probably heard it 1,000 times before: Drinking water is foundational to good health, and most of us need at least eight glasses a day of it. But why bother? What’s so important about water, anyway?

Water isn’t just for wetting the lips. Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is vital for the function of every single cell in your body. Water keeps your temperature and blood pressure stable, and keeps your heart pumping oxygen and nutrients to all those muscles you need for outdoor fun and activities of daily living. Water flushes wastes from your kidneys and is necessary to prevent kidney stones and urinary tract infections.

Lack of water can lead to dehydration, which occurs when you don’t have enough water in your body to carry out these normal functions. Even mild dehydration can drain your energy and leave you feeling tired. Older adults are at greater risk of dehydration because the body loses the ability to recognize thirst as we age. Medications can also lead to dehydration, as can alcohol and excess caffeine. Surprisingly enough, one study showed that a staggering 48 percent of older adults admitted to the ER had symptoms of dehydration in their blood work! Could you be dehydrated right now? Symptoms such as dizziness, headache, confusion, irritability, and even fainting from low blood pressure can be attributed to dehydration.

Water not only helps keep you alive, it can help you feel more alert and agile. Do you have joint pain and inflammation? Water naturally cushions joints and vital organs; you might be surprised at the reduction in chronic pain you may experience by drinking enough water. Water is also necessary for quick-thinking and intelligence: Your soggy brain is actually 90 percent water and depends on fluid for its every function.

Research supports the importance of water in the older adult population. Older adults who drink enough water use fewer laxatives and suffer fewer falls. Seniors who drank at least five 8-ounce glasses of water a day were found, in one study, to have lower risk of a fatal coronary event.

So how much water is enough? To figure out your personal water needs, first divide your body weight (in pounds) in half to estimate your daily fluid needs in ounces; then divide that number by eight to estimate your fluid needs in cups per day. For example, 145 pounds  2 = 72.5 ounces, divided by 8 equals 9 cups of fluid per day. What is the best test? Clear or pale urine signifies adequate hydration.

If you don’t like water, or can’t remember to drink it, here are six easy tips for increasing water in your life:

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