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The Hype About Hydration

Drink Up
Drink Up
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Why is staying hydrated so important? Can a person drink too much water? We see reminders about drinking plenty of fluids especially in the summer but keeping the body from dehydration is important year round.

The reason nutrition pundits insist on keeping the body hydrated is because of the implications if we don't.

  • Keep the body functioning properly: Fluids are essential in delivering nutrients throughout the cells of our body. It also eliminates waste by effectively allowing the good (vitamins, antioxidants, minerals) and the bad (waste products, toxins) to keep moving efficiently through the body for use or elimination.
  • Healthy look and feel: When we are dehydrated, our body tends to bloat and we feel puffy. It's merely a protection mechanism much the same as if we try to starve ourselves in order to lose weight, the body will go into starvation mode. If we become dehydrated, the body makes an attempt to retain fluids because it doesn't know when/if it will get any more. Drought season so to speak.
  • Fluids regulate body temperature and keeps joints and tissues in good working order.
  • If running (and speed walking, etc), dehydration may be the cause for gastrointestinal distress. Sometimes we believe it was the food we ate when actually it is simply lack of fluids.

Can a person drink too much water? Yes and it is called Hyponatremia which is a reduction in the electrolyte balance in the blood. This can be fatal.

It is important for everyone, but especially people who perspire a lot, to be meticulous about fluid intake on hot days, on days when exercising for an extended amount of time, or even during cooler months when exercising in the wind and cold. An easy way to calculate necessary fluid in take is to hop on the scale prior to exercise. Note weight before and after exercise. If body weight is considerably less, more fluids are necessary. An equal balance of water to electrolytes is a safe bet. Source and for more information.

How to hydrate with foods:

You can keep the body hydrated by eating a lot of vegetables and fruit high in water content. Some examples are: cucumbers (96%), tomatoes (94%), spinach (92%),celery, broccoli (91%), watermelon (92%), strawberries (92%), grapefruit and oranges, cantaloupe and more. The water loaded fruits and vegetables also benefit the body by adding vitamins, minerals, natural sugars, antioxidants and more good, natural nutrition to our system. Fish and other seafoods hold a high percentage of water, where as red meat is harder to digest and will make the kidneys work harder.

Smoothies with lots of fruits and vegetables are a good way to drink up with flavor and nutrition. Speaking of drinking up, how about herbal teas which are high in antioxidants. During the cooler months, broths, vegetable soups are ideal to warm and hydrate a thirsty body.

Basic Hydration: Simply put, keep a water bottle with you at all times. When exercising in heat or for extended periods of time, alternate between water and an electrolyte drink. Flavor water with natural produce such as lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit, melon, berries, parsley or mint. Urine color should be light.

Resources: Prevention, Water Content and local tips from Hannaford Healthy Living in New Hartford and Utica, NY

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