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Hydration Station

Healthy diet rule No. 1: stay hydrated!

By Marie Detillier, Clinical Nutrition manager, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano

It's July in Texas. It's hot. And, we're busy!

Summer is a time of family vacations, kid camps, old-fashioned neighborhood barbecues, picnics, baseball and triple-digit heat. It's easy to get dehydrated during this time of year. 

I remember, fondly of course, our summer family road trips. My mom would lovingly tell my sister and me, "don't drink too much because we don't want to make a bunch of stops, right?!" We all wanted to get to our vacation destination asap, even if that meant limiting our liquids. Of course we would always arrive tired, grumpy... dehydrated. But we got there in record time! Not worth it. 

As water is the largest single component of the body, adequate hydration is crucial. Water is essential to the physiologic processes of digestion, absorption and excretion. It plays a key role in the structure and function of the circulatory system and acts as a transport medium for nutrients and all body substances. What does this mean from a dietitian's perspective? Healthy diet rule No. 1: stay hydrated!

Enjoy this summer by avoiding dehydration. Here's how:

  • When it comes to meeting daily water and hydration needs, both non-caffeinated beverages and caffeinated beverages count. While concerns have been raised that caffeine has a diuretic effect, available evidence indicates that this effect is transient, and there is no convincing evidence that caffeine leads to dehydration (per the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.)
  • Pay attention to the color and odor of your urine. I know it sounds unpleasant, but it's the best way to make sure you're hydrated. Dark color and strong odor? You need more fluids.
  • Many people mistakenly interpret their thirst for hunger. Extra calories anyone? Don't do it! The next time you think you might be hungry, reach for a nice tall glass of iced tea (this is the south after all) or some other no calorie fluid.
  • On average, about 80 percent of your total water comes from drinking water and beverages (including caffeinated beverages) and the other 20 percent is derived from food.
Water content of common foods:
Food Item Serving Size Water Content/Serving
Grapes, raw 1 cup 120 ml
Berries, raw 1 cup 130 ml
Watermelon, raw 1 cup 140 ml
Broccoli, cooked 1 cup 170 ml
Lettuce, raw 1 cup 52 ml
Green beans, cooked 1 cup 120 ml
Popsicle 1 popsicle 45 ml
Oatmeal, cooked 1 cup 200 ml
Cottage cheese 1 cup 185 ml
Yogurt, fruit flavored 6 ounce snack size 126 ml
1 cup = 240 ml fluid
Source: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences Hydration Guidelines:
Age Range Daily Water Adequate Intake
Infants
0-6 months 3 cups* (0.7 L), assumed to be from human milk.
7-12 months 3.5 cups (0.8 L), assumed to be from human milk and complementary foods and beverages.

This includes ~3 cups (0.6 L) as total fluid, including formula, juices and drinking water.

Children
1-3 years 5.5 cups (1.3 L) total water,** including ~4 cups (0.9 L) as total beverages, including drinking water.
4-8 years 7.5 cups (1.7 L) total water, including ~5 cups (1.2 L) as total beverages, including drinking water.
Adolescents Males Females
9-13 years 10.5 cups (2.4 L) total water, including
~8 cups (1.8 L) as total beverages,
including drinking water.
10 cups (2.3 L) total water, including ~8
cups (1.8 L) as total beverages, including
drinking water.
14-18 years 14 cups (3.3 L) total water, including
~11 cups (2.6 L ) as total beverages,
including drinking water.
9 cups (2.1L) total water, including ~7 cups
(1.6 L) as total beverages, including
drinking water.
Adults Males Females
19-70+ years 16 cups (3.7 L) total water, including
~13 cups (3 L) as total beverages,
including drinking water.
11.5 cups (2.7 L) total water, including ~9
cups (2.2 L) as total beverages, including drinking
water.
* 1 cup equals 8 fluid ounces (~240 ml). Figures rounded up to the nearest 10 ml.

** "Total water " includes fluids from all foods and beverages consumed.

*The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences conducted an extensive analysis on the research concerning hydration and released fluid intake recommendations in their 2004 report.

For more tips on small, healthy changes you can make, visit TexasHealth.org/Well-Being.

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