Beat the heat and hydrate your body the right way!

Posted on Thursday, May 8th, 2014

Written by Claire Bilik

Water is an important part of our diet. It is in the foods and beverages we consume daily. Water makes up 60-70 % of our body so it’s no surprise that it is responsible for regulating many functions within the body. Water helps with food digestion. It helps the body to get rid of waste, control body temperature, transport nutrients, protect organs and joints and regulate our fluid and electrolyte balance. Fluids include milk, tea and juice, but water is the best fluid to quench your thirst! Choose water, small amounts of 100% juice and low fat milk or soy beverages more often. Choose pop, energy drinks, sweetened specialty coffees and sports drinks less often. Remember, some fluids are better choices than others and here’s why:

Some fluids are better choices than others

Water

Water contains no calories- try adding lemon, strawberries or cucumber slices for a refreshing flavour!

Fruit/Vegetable Juice

Juices are often high in sugar and low in fibre so choose whole fruit and vegetables more often as they contain more fibre. When choosing juice try to consume 100% juice and limit to 1 cup per day. Be mindful of drinks labelled ‘fruit cocktails’ and ‘punches’ as these are less nutritious.

Milk/Soy beverages

Aim to choose low fat milk options such as 1% more often. Milk and soy products contain many nutrients such as protein, vitamins and minerals which are important for health! Milk is a great source of vitamin D and calcium. Chocolate milk contains the same amount of nutrients as regular milk; however chocolate milk contains more sugar.

Soft Drinks

Soft drinks should be chosen less often as they tend to be high in sugar and low in nutrients -so they can cause energy spikes and crashes without making you feel full! Some soft drinks also contain caffeine. While diet sodas don’t contain sugar or calories, they can still have caffeine and can make you more prone to sugar cravings.

Sports Drinks

Water is the best way to stay hydrated when exercising for an hour or less. Sports drinks are a good option when you are active for more than an hour, especially in hot and humid weather, if you are wearing protective equipment, or if you are participating in a tournament.

Coffee and Tea

It is a myth that coffee and tea are dehydrating! Limit caffeine to about 400 mg (3 cups) per day as more than this can make you feel shaky, can interrupt sleep, exaggerate stress and anxiety, or cause energy spikes and crashes. Herbals and decaf coffees are a good choice when trying to reduce your caffeine intake.

How much fluid should you drink a day?

Dietitians of Canada recommends approximately 3L (12 cups) each day for men and approximately 2.2 L (9 cups) each day for women. The claim that everyone should drink eight glasses of water a day is not true! In fact the amount of water that our body needs can vary daily. Hydration needs depend on many contributing factors such as gender, body size, activity level and weather conditions. Our bodies need more fluids when it is hot outside and when we are physically active. Pale yellow urine is generally a good indication that you are well hydrated.

Water can be lost from the body in many ways such as through sweat, waste, and even breathing! When more fluid is lost compared to taken in dehydration can occur. When you are thirsty you are already dehydrated and it is possible to be dehydrated without showing any symptoms. It is important to be mindful of the symptoms of dehydration. Mild dehydration can result in symptoms such as dizziness, dry lips and mouth, irritability, thirst and tiredness. Signs of severe dehydration can include rapid breathing, low energy, confusion and unconsciousness. Be sure to drink fluids regularly throughout the day even if you don’t feel thirsty.

So now that you know the signs and symptoms of dehydration, remember these steps to prevent dehydration:

  • Have a drink of water first thing in the morning and right before you go to sleep
  • Bring a reusable water bottle with you to school or work so you can sip on water throughout the day and refill it as needed
  • Consider having a glass of water before you eat your meals
  • Try to consume fluids with your meals such as a glass of low fat milk or a soy beverage
  • Drink regularly throughout the day and pay attention to your thirst

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