By: Ben Sizemore, Dietetic Intern
As the spring semester winds down temperatures begin to shoot up, truly marking the beginning of summer. Hotter weather means adequate hydration can be harder to achieve. Whether you are exercising, traveling, or lying out in the sun, it is important to get enough to drink!
Why is it so Important?
You may have heard that the body can survive 3 weeks without food and 3 days without water. While this statement has not been scientifically proven, there is some truth behind its words. The body needs hydration and cannot survive long periods without it. In fact, humans are comprised of 55-75% water. Hydration assists in pumping blood throughout the body, regulates body temperature, aides in bowel movements, regulates electrolytes, and allows muscles to function normally. With all these important functions, it is no wonder dehydration can be such a serious issue. So how much should you drink to keep everything running well?
Current recommendations suggest that people drink between 8 to 12 cups of fluid each day; however, these recommendations are for the general population. More specific fluid recommendations depend on factors such as age, gender, activity level, weather conditions, and medical conditions. If you get thirsty, it means so you already dehydrated so generally, thirst is not the best sign for when you should drink. One sure sign way to check your hydration status is through your urine. Dark urine is an indicator of dehydration while pale or clear urine is a sign of good hydration. Knowing how much to drink is the first step maintaining adequate hydration; the next step is knowing what to drink.
What to Drink
The good news is that any kind of fluid can help you stay hydrated. Foods that have high water content, such as fruits and vegetables, and foods that are liquid at room temperature like soups, ice creams, and jellos, all contribute to hydration status. Although these all add to hydration, maybe of these options also add calories. In fact, the average American drinks about 400 calories each day. Many of these calorie dense drinks are high in sugar and caffeine, the former of which can cause stomach irritation if the drinker is dehydrated and the latter of which acts as a diuretic by promoting fluid loss. Water is usually the most recommended fluid to drink, especially for those more prone to dehydration. With zero calories and no adverse side effects, an ice cold glass of water is the perfect drink to cool you off on a hot summer day while keeping you hydrated.
Terps With Taste is run by the Student Nutritionist Team with University of Maryland Dining Services. We write content for students, by students. Enjoy!