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Care New England Wellness Center
Care New England Wellness Center

Bottoms up this summer

If we were like dogs when it comes to thirst – tongues lolling out and panting – maybe it would be easier for us to stay hydrated, especially in the warmer summer months. Instead, we just need to pay attention to our body's signals and be prepared.

"Water is important for optimal functioning of the body," explains Elaine Piasecki, MS, RD, LDN, CDOE, a nutritionist at the Care New England Wellness Center. "Our cells, tissues and organs need water in order to function. The body uses water to remove waste, lubricate joints and maintain body temperature.

"Water also keeps the body from overheating. It's important to stay hydrated all year long, but it's particularly important in the summer months. Dehydration can affect us quickly, especially when we reach 100-degree days."

CNE Talks (Your) Health - Feeling the heat!

Signs of dehydration include:

  • Dark colored urine
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling dizzy or light headed
  • Loss of appetite
  • Extreme thirst
  • Headache
  • Confusion

"The good thing is that the answer to dehydration is as simple as drinking water. For most people, water is all that is needed to maintain good hydration. Sports drinks with electrolytes can be useful if you're involved in high intensity exercise in very hot weather," Piasecki says, adding that sports drinks can be high in calories.

Special cases

Keeping hydrated is important for people with conditions such as diabetes or heart disease to avoid over taxing the heart or other organs, she continues. It's important to adjust your fluid intake based on outside temperature, activity level and medical conditions that may cause your heart to work harder to pump blood.

In addition, the risk of dehydration increases with age and the natural changes in the way the kidneys process fluid. Other factors that may contribute to dehydration in the elderly may be illness that accelerates the loss of water (fever, vomiting, diarrhea), decline in cognition and attentiveness to personal needs, a decline in thirst sensation, or the fear of urinary incontinence.

Water wonders

Piasecki offers the following tips for staying hydrated in the summertime:

  • Keep a large bottle of water on hand to remind yourself to drink during the day
  • Have a glass of water before each meal, which will also help curb your appetite if you are watching your weight
  • Track your fluid intake so you can be sure you're getting enough
  • Get water from soup broths as well as such fruits and vegetables as watermelon, grapes, lettuce and tomatoes

For more help staying hydrated, you can talk to your primary care physician or a nutritionist at the Care New England Wellness Center by calling (401) 732-3066.

It's hot! Hot! Hot!
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