Tap into summer hydration tips

We’ve all heard of the importance of drinking enough water, whether we’re physically active or not. Yet too few of us heed the warnings, raising serious health risks. Here are some suggestions for staying well hydrated.

As an avid runner, certified running coach and veteran of various marathons, Nicole Cassel knows the importance of proper hydration.

She understands it so well, in fact, that she makes hydration plans before logging longer runs — like the 40-mile solo run she did to celebrate her 40th birthday.

“I went out the night before and stored my water bottles and high water content foods along the course to make sure I had enough hydration to sustain my run,” says Cassel, consultant principal in health education at Capital Blue Cross. “I knew it was important to replenish the proper nutrients, including water, every 45-60 minutes to be able to sustain the total mileage, keep my body from cramping and maintain my energy.”

Cassel would not have been able to cover these 40 miles without the planned supplies. But you don’t have to be a marathon runner to need proper hydration.

Athletes and non-athletes alike need to replenish vital fluids, especially as we enter the most sweltering time of summer. Failure to do so, says Johns Hopkins Medicine, can put our bodies at risk of not being able to cool themselves, raise our internal temperature and potentially lead to heat stroke.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) add that dehydration can cause foggy thoughts, overheating, mood swings and constipation. Instances of prolonged dehydration, the Mayo Clinic reports, can even trigger urinary tract infections, kidney stones, and kidney failure.

“It’s important to drink several glasses of water a day to stay hydrated,” advises Debi Garzon, Registered Dietitian at Capital Blue Cross. “However, you can also supplement your water intake by eating water-rich foods. Fresh produce is your best source of hydrating foods – things like watermelon, cucumber, strawberries, celery, tomatoes and zucchini, to name a few.

Statistics suggest that too few Americans follow such advice. A study of more than 15,000 Americans found that 43% of men and 41% of women between the ages of 20 and 50 fall short of the daily water intake recommended by the US Institute of Medicine. Those 50-70 drank even less, and those 71 and older were the worst offenders: 95% of men and 83% of women in that age group didn’t drink enough water.

keep it flowing

We can all reduce the health risks and low energy associated with low hydration, and resources are available to help.

For example, many of them covered by their employer’s Capital Blue Cross health insurance plans have access to the health insurer’s “Wat’r You Drinking” initiatives. Capital’s “Wat’r You Drinking Challenge” – which Capital also offers to its own staff – is a 30-day water drinking program that helps participants stay hydrated throughout the day. “Wat’r You Drinking Live” is a 30-minute live or virtual presentation that teaches the health benefits of drinking water and how to make healthy beverage choices and increase daily water intake.

Garzon also suggests these hydration tips:

  • Start the day with a glass of fresh water or water infused with things like a favorite fruit without artificial sweeteners or sugars.
  • Drink water regularly throughout the day. A general rule is to drink half your body weight – in ounces – daily. So a 200 pound man should drink about 100 ounces of water.
  • Eat foods with a high water content such as cucumbers (95% water), melons (92% water) or strawberries (91% water).
  • Avoid alcohol, sugary drinks and caffeine.
  • Before having a snack, drink water. We often confuse thirst with hunger.

If that’s too many pointers to follow, don’t worry. Garzon sums up good summer hydration with one key principle: “Remember that when you sweat, you lose fluids, so be sure to sip water throughout the day!”

THINK (Trusted Health Information, News, and Knowledge) is a community publication of Capital Blue Cross. Our mission is to provide education, resources and news on the latest health and insurance issues.

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