Despite a distinct chill in the early morning air, August afternoons can be steamy and it’s still important for people of all ages to stay well hydrated. But did you know that H2O is better absorbed by the body when accompanied by food or in beverages such as milk, tea or orange juice that contain amino acids, fats and minerals? In fact, guzzling large volumes of plain water can flush out too much sodium through urine and cause an imbalance.
According to a recent Time magazine report, sipping water throughout the day or drinking water with a meal or snack can help prevent hyponatremia; low levels of sodium in the blood that may occur as a result of excess fluid. In extreme cases, this can be a life-threatening condition. If urine output is clear, it’s a sign that the body isn’t able to absorb the water.
Drinking large amounts of plain water after exercising without food can overload the kidneys’ ability to retain water and keep the body and brain well hydrated. Beverages like milk that contain electrolytes like sodium and potassium and nutrients are better at rehydrating than water alone, just be aware of the caloric content of milk and don’t overdo it if you are watching your weight.
As our bodies age, we become less able to perceive thirst and it is easy for older adults to become dehydrated, especially in hot weather. Seniors may become confused or have difficulty concentrating when they are dehydrated. And even mild dehydration can affect mood and cognitive abilities. Symptoms of dehydration include dark yellow urine, headache, dizziness, dry mouth, sleepiness, decrease urine output, few or no tears and dry skin.
In addition to sipping water throughout the day, older adults can be encouraged to drink with each meal or snack and load up on fruits and vegetables with a high water content like watermelon, cucumbers, cantaloupe, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries or tomatoes. Learn more about how different beverage affect hydration by following this link to a recent study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.