Dawn Jackson Blatner

Drink Up! Avoiding Dehydration

It’s been super-hot this summer in Chicago, where I live.

So I’ve been reminding my friends and patients to pay attention to how much water they’re drinking, because it’s easy to get dehydrated when the temperature climbs.

Around 60 percent of your body -- and about 70 percent of your brain -- is composed of water.

Now that we’re into the dog days of summer, dehydration is epidemic and a hidden cause of fatigue, stomach aches, dizziness, weakness, confusion, memory loss and other troubles. Luckily, it’s simple to drink enough water if you abide by the following tips:

1. Know how much you need.

According to the Institute of Medicine, women need nine cups of water daily and men require 12.5 cups. Keep in mind, these recommendations are based on how much you require if you’re simply sitting inside with the AC running. If you’re going to be outside in the heat -- whether you’re gardening, running around with the kids or lounging at the pool -- you’ll need to drink more. Try to remember to down at least a cup of water for every 30 minutes you’re in the sun, even if you’re not thirsty.

2. Eat your greens.

A great way to boost your water consumption is with fruits and veggies; most are packed with fluid, even if they don’t seem watery. My summertime faves are watermelon, peaches, tomatoes and zucchini. Soups like gazpacho or those with a broth base are also hydrating -- but try to avoid those with salt content higher than 480 mg so you don’t jolt your thirst!

3. Add a mixer.

I know I drink more water when it’s flavored. So toss some orange, lemon or cucumber slices in your water, and it will be easy to drink enough.

4. Take it on the go.

Buy a BPA-free water bottle that you can refill as needed. The great-looking bottles from WaterGeeks (TheWaterGeeks.com) even come with their own filter, ideal if you fill up from a fountain. And Vapur (Vapur.us) sells bottles that actually roll up when you’re done with them, so they’re major space savers.

If you follow my plan, chances are, you won’t get dehydrated. But in the case that you don’t drink enough water, the first telltale signs of dehydration are:

- Thirst (of course!)

- Dry mouth

- Muscle cramps

- Headache

- Lightheadedness

- Nausea

A lot of people blame these symptoms on something else, thinking, “Oh, I must be squinting too much in the sun” or “My kids are being loud and giving me a headache.” But don’t jump to conclusions. At least not until you have a glass of water!


Dawn Jackson Blatner is a registered dietitian in Chicago and a national media spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. She has also written The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease, and Add Years to Your Life.


Available at Amazon.com:

The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease, and Add Years to Your Life

Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements

The Power of Champions

Healthy Travel: Don't Travel Without It!

The Good Doctor's Guide to Colds and Flu


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Health - Drink Up! Avoiding Dehydration