It’s July in Georgia and that means one thing: HEAT! According to the Weather Channel, we’ve had average temperatures hovering at 90 degrees or higher since the beginning of summer and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. From “cookouts”, going to the beach, mowing the lawn to gardening, we are spending more time outside –Sweating!!! So let’s stay hydrated and drink our daily glasses of water each day. My Auntie sounded like a broken record telling me, even threatening, to get me to drink water.
According to the USDA, water is essential for good health. Did you know….Water has a number of functions for our bodies. The Mayo Clinic says “every system in your body depends on water.” It regulates body temperature, maintains muscle tone, cushions joints and protects organs and tissues, aids in digestion and removal of waste, helps the kidneys and liver work effectively to metabolize fat, keeps you energized and at peak performance and protects our bones and joints. Another advantage that readers may like is water helps keep your skin clear and minimizes wrinkling and sagging. As we age that becomes more of a concern for many of us. Other advantages water has no calories (simply cutting back on soda is an excellent first step toward weight loss), is naturally low in sodium and has no fat or cholesterol and water is preferred method of hydration.
Water protects us from a variety of heat related illnesses, such as dehydration, which means your body has lost water faster than it should with heat being a contributing factor. The signs of dehydration include: dry mouth, dizziness, headache, weakness and fatigue. It can also impair judgement and contribute to accidents. So actively prevent dehydration by drinking plenty of water.
Some members of our community, namely seniors, may require more water to keep hydrated. As we age we may not recognize the symptoms of dehydration as quickly. I know it can be a challenge to get Papa or Granny to drink water but, it’s imperative for their health.
The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension encourages you to stay hydrated as you work and play in the summer heat. Extension Agent Keishon Thomas suggests the following tips for staying hydrated with water this summer.
1. Keep a refillable water bottle with you. They have the cutest water bottles now; you can even get them monogrammed! You are more likely to refill it, if you have it.
2. Make water the only choice. My husband and I have made water the only choice in our home a number of times. I stopped purchasing sodas and limited the juice. As if by magic “mom magic,” if you will, water is consumed regularly in large amounts.
3. Not crazy about the taste of plain water? Try infused water by adding lemon, limes or in season berries. It’s delicious, beautiful and you are doing your body a favor.
In the summer we should increase our water intake. Keishon says “ I begin each day with a glass of water, I find it wakes up my system and keeps things moving. I also drink one glass of water before drinking sweet tea (my absolute favorite) and after.” It adds up, a glass at a time. For me, I keep a refillable water bottle with me at all times. I have found when I keep it available I am more likely to drink it rather than grab another type of drink. I also track the amount of water I consume on my FitBit. This makes me more aware. I have seen people fill up a gallon jug and mark on it a time that they should have consumed a certain amount throughout the day. That is a great visual reminder. Many of the drinking cups available also have the ounces listed on them.
Eating out? Try having water as your drink with your entrée. It’s also economical. Have you glanced at the price of the average beverage in restaurants lately? My children tell me, “Momma you always order water”. I often joke right back that I cannot afford to buy drinks for all of us.
Eating foods with high moisture content can also assist you in getting your daily water intake. I love watermelon and like most fruits and vegetables it is comprised mostly of water. It’s also in season, so eat up. Some other foods that have a high moisture content include: cucumbers, celery, radishes tomatoes, spinach, strawberries, green peppers, and iceberg lettuce.
How much water should you drink every day? Generally, most of us have gone by the guideline of drinking eight 8-ounce glasses a day. This is called the 8x8 rule which is easy to remember. The amount of water you need really varies on your health, how active you are and where you live. Drink water throughout the day – not just when you feel thirsty.
For more information on health and wellness, food safety, family, home, money or textiles contact your local UGA Extension at 1.800.ASK.UGA1. Be safe during this hot summer days and stay hydrated.
Ideas for Infused Water
Add fruits, herbs or spices to flavor your water. When using herbs tear the leaves so the flavor will be enhanced. Try different combinations to see what you prefer. There are infuser pitchers and bottles available to purchase, but you can just make your own infusion in something you already have. Here are some idea to get you started…the possibilities of combinations are endless.
Add peeled fruit and other ingredients to a ½ gallon or whole gallon of water. Leave at least 4 hours or overnight in the refrigerator to let the flavors infuse. Here’s a few suggestions:
· Strawberries & Mint Leaves
· Strawberries & Jalapenos
· Cucumber & Mint
· Oranges & Blueberries
· Ginger & Peaches
· Watermelon & Basil