Tiffany Batsakis, MS, RD, LD
Meals on Wheels of San Antonio
Christian Senior Services
Every year in May, we send an informational sheet to our clients about fluid needs during the summer and hot weather. Many seniors are at risk for dehydration because they typically do not drink enough fluids and our hot Texas summers can make matters worse. In addition to hot weather, physical activity, poor food intake, weight loss, diarrhea, fever, vomiting, and certain medications can lead to dehydration as well. Steps should be taken to minimize water loss as dehydration can lead to a host of problems. It can impair judgement and activity and signs include confusion, dry mouth and lips, dizziness, headaches, increased body temperature, thirst, and irritability.
It is important to remember to drink adequate fluids throughout the day. As we age, our sense of thirst diminishes so we cannot always rely on that as a reminder to drink. Sometimes, we may already be slightly dehydrated when we feel thirsty, so drinking with and in between meals can help prevent that. Food can help contribute to overall hydration status and the summer is a great time to snack on fresh fruit and vegetables. You can also have some fruit flavored water. Add lemon or lime juice with cucumbers to add flavor, and fresh fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, and watermelon give your glass a nice color!
What are some other healthy ways to hydrate? Have a salad! Vegetables are packed with vitamins, nutrients, fiber, and water! Have some lettuce with cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, celery, and broccoli. Add a lean source of protein with some healthy fat and you’ll have a nutritious, hydrating meal! For dessert, or as a snack during the day, choose some juicy watermelon, which is made up of 92% water. Here are some other juicy fruits:
|Fruit||Water Content (Ounces)|
|Watermelon (1 Cup)||5 oz.|
There is no longer a fluid recommendation, except drink until you are hydrated. A simple way to tell if you are getting enough fluid is by looking at your urine. If it is light or pale yellow, you are getting enough fluids. If it is deep/dark yellow, you need to drink more. With that, however, a good rule of thumb is 6-8 glasses of water per day because we cannot always rely upon our sense of thirst as an indicator. For active individuals and athletes, a quick assessment to determine sweat rate can be done before and after exercise. If you check your weight both before and after, you can learn how much you sweat and replenish accordingly.
Staying hydrated is important. It is safe, especially during hot weather, it maximizes performance in the physically active, and it can prevent the complications listed above. Drinking water is the best way to keep your fluids in check. If you do not drink often, give yourself a little reminder to do so. Remember to add more vegetables and fruit to your diet. Most Americans do not eat enough as it is, and as mentioned above, not only do they provide healthy nutrients and fiber, but they are full of water as well. So, enjoy the summer heat but stay cool while doing so with these tips!