It's All About Water & Electrolytes
By Alison Brantner, Dietetics Student
Reviewed by Kaylie Brand, Registered Dietician
Many of us love the hot days of summer ... the lovely weather that draws people outside to enjoy outdoor festivities and the summer sun. But how can we beat the heat? Thankfully, our amazing human bodies can do the trick!
Regulating Our Body Temperature
Our bodies convert the water we consume into sweat to help regulate our internal temperature on these hot summer days. With that said, we must be conscious of our body’s hydration levels and thirst cues. Let us dive deeper into the wonderful benefits of water!
So, what does this mean? We lose water through sweat, urination, bowel movements, and even breathing; meaning that because of this loss, our water compensation is crucial to keeping our hydration levels steady to prevent dehydration and the risks that accompany it.
What About Sports Drinks?
You may be wondering why sports drinks are recommended for staying hydrated when water should be sufficient. The answer is the power of electrolytes. Advertising for sports drinks often emphasizes the benefit of electrolytes in their beverages.
Electrolytes are minerals found in the body, such as sodium, potassium, and calcium, that have an electrical charge. Water and electrolytes coincide in our body to monitor and regulate nerve cells, muscle relaxation and contractions (yes, including your heart!) So, do not curb your sodium intake and instead meet the daily recommended goal of 1500mg. Remember, sodium is not always the enemy!
Where Else Can You Get Electrolytes?
We've talked about sports drinks ... but be aware of the empty calories and excessive sugars that come from these beverages. Consuming a healthy, balanced diet can ensure your body is receiving electrolytes to perform daily functions.
These common foods provide electrolytes:
Having a sports drink is perfectly okay when food is not sufficient to meet your needs. They can be an easy way to hydrate your body on the go! But balance out activity and caloric intake.
How Much Water is Enough Water?
So how much water should you be drinking? Unfortunately, there is not exactly one straightforward answer. Several external and internal factors like age, sex, weight, physical activity, sweat, and pregnancy can affect exactly how much your body needs to stay hydrated. Luckily, there are recommendations we can try to meet!
Women should consume around 11.5 cups of water per day and men should be consuming 15.5 cups per day. Usually, these numbers also factor in the 20% of water that comes from the foods we eat. It is equally important to remain hydrated through both liquid water and the food you eat. If you find yourself wondering what your specific hydration levels should be, dietitian Kaylie Brand can help estimate your fluid needs. Call us at 651-600-3035 and make an appointment.
Tips and Tricks to Stay Hydrated This Summer
- Carry around a reusable water bottle to ensure you are meeting your required fluid intake.
- Eat more delicious fruits and vegetables. Foods like watermelon, cucumber, cabbage, spinach, strawberries, and cooked broccoli have a high-water content, in addition to being very nutritious.
- Listen to your body’s thirst cues. Throughout the day, sip on water whenever you feel thirsty.
- Spice up your water with natural flavors. Throw in some lemon juice, cucumber slices, or fresh fruit into your water to make a delicious, flavorful summer drink.
Beat the heat with hydration ... and make this the best summer ever.
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Frazier, Karen. Nutrition Facts: The Truth about Food. Rockridge Press, 2016.
Gordon, Contributors: Barbara. “How Much Water Do You Need.” EatRight, 2019
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Kaylie has a wide variety of experience working as a dietitian with people from all walks of life. She has developed plans and recommendations for professional sports teams, college athletic departments, grocery stores, grade school students, hospital patients, and more. In other words ... no matter what your goals are for eating healthier or weight management, Kaylie has the experience to work with you and find solutions.