It is hot outside.
Okay, I have stated the obvious. It is August. We are in Georgia. Of course, it is hot outside. But we live in an age of luxury. At least that’s what I call A/C. When I can cool the temperature in my home, it is indeed a life of luxury.
But if you are outside, you realize that it is hot. If you are mowing the somewhat crispy grass, you realize it is hot. If you (or your kids) are involved in football season, you realize it is hot. If you decide to take a walk, play golf, or wash the car, you realize it is hot. If you have been outside in the last week…well, you get my drift.
Being hot might remind you to be thankful for that A/C. It might also remind you that you need to drink some water.
How much water should you drink each day? It's a simple question with no easy answers. Studies have produced varying recommendations over the years but, basically, our water needs depend on many factors, including individual health, activity level, and where you live. (Remember, we live in Georgia so I would be writing a wholly different article if we were in South Dakota.)
Water is our body's principal chemical component and makes up about 60 percent of our body weight (some of us like to think it makes up more – ladies, you know who you are – but it is not true). In fact, every system in your body depends on water. That sounds pretty important, doesn’t it? EVERY system in your body depends on water. Seems like we should do something about that.
Everyone has heard the advice, "Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day." Although the "8 by 8" rule isn't supported by hard scientific health evidence, it remains popular because it's just so easy to remember. The Institute of Medicine and the Mayo Clinic both still use those recommendations.
According to the Mayo Clinic, you may need to modify your total fluid intake depending on the following:
• Exercise. If you exercise or engage in any activity that makes you sweat, you need to drink extra water to compensate for the fluid loss. How much additional fluid you need depends on how much you sweat during exercise as well as the duration and type of exercise.
• Intense exercise. During long bouts of intense exercise, it's best to use a sports drink that contains sodium, as this will help replace sodium lost in sweat and reduce the chances of developing hyponatremia, which can be life-threatening. Also, continue to replace fluids after you're finished exercising.
• Environment. Hot or humid weather can make you sweat and requires additional intake of fluid. (I think they might have had Georgia summers in mind when they made this recommendation.)
• Illnesses or health conditions. When you have fever, vomiting or diarrhea, your body loses additional fluids. In these cases, you should drink more water. You may also need increased fluid intake if you have certain conditions, including bladder or urinary tract infections. On the other hand, some conditions, such as heart failure and some types of kidney, liver and adrenal diseases, may impair excretion of water and even require that you limit your fluid intake.
• Pregnancy or breast-feeding. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding need additional fluids to stay hydrated.
Lack of water can lead to dehydration, a condition that occurs when you don't have enough water in your body to carry out normal functions. Even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you tired.
If the effort is being made to drink water, you are probably meeting your daily requirements. Keep in mind that all fluids count towards your daily total. Yes, that includes your sweet tea, your diet cola, and your iced mocha latte.
Until the fall weather arrives, we will battle the Georgia heat. No need to battle dehydration along with it. So raise your glass and enjoy a cold drink of water…Or 8! And while you are at it, make sure your husband, wife, children, parents, and neighbors are doing the same.
Hosanna Fletcher has lived in Newton County since 2005. With a Masters in Public Health and another in Sociology, she has worked on a variety of community development projects, led training sessions for Lay Health Advisors, conducted and evaluated health risk assessments, and designed and implemented employee wellness programs. Hosanna and her husband Kevin, a Newton County native, have been married for 15 years this October. They have two children — Miranda, 11, and Thomas, 3.