Getting enough fluids an important part of healthy living

Water is life. No one knows that better than the scientists at NASA. Indication of water on a planet means the possibility that life can even exist. Whether we’re traveling to outer space or going for a walk in the neighborhood, water is a vital necessity. Without hydration, our bodies cease to function normally. According to the United States Geological Survey agency, water is a vital nutrient to the life of every cell and acts first as a building material. Furthermore, water regulates our body temperature, assists in food digestion, transports nutrients to the bloodstream, lubricates joints, helps deliver oxygen all over the body, clears the body of waste through urination and helps the brain manufacture hormones and neurotransmitters. 

As we get older, staying hydrated becomes more difficult. With age, the body’s ability to conserve water decreases. Additionally, some older people may lose their sense of thirst. To further complicate matters, some medicines like diuretics might cause frequent urination and make it even more important to have plenty of fluids. All of these factors can easily lead to an older adult becoming dehydrated before they even realize it. Severe dehydration can lead to serious problems such as seizures and kidney failure. It’s important to be proactive and recognize the need for hydration early to prevent complications from lack of fluids. 

Signs of severe dehydration

  • Dry mouth
  • Lethargy
  • Sunken eyes
  • Little or no urination
  • Dark urine
  • Dry skin
  • Irritability, dizziness or confusion
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid breathing and heart rate
  • Weak pulse
  • Cold hands and feet

Ways to stay hydrated

Drinking enough fluids every day is essential to maintaining good health. Individual water requirements vary from person to person and can depend on many factors such as activity level, health conditions and environment. However, try to balance fluid intake with output. Although drinking water is the simplest option for hydration, there are several ways to support fluid intake. Try these tips for getting enough fluids:

  • Add liquids to your diet throughout the day
  • Raw fruits and vegetables can be hydrating as well. Have cut vegetables and fruits as nutritious snacks.
  • Use lemon juice or water enhancers if you don’t like plain water
  • Take sips from a glass of water, milk or juice between bites during meals
  • Have a cup of low-fat soup as an afternoon snack
  • Drink a full glass of water when taking medication
  • Have a glass of water before exercising or going outside to garden or walk, especially on a hot day
  • Drink fat-free or low-fat milk or other drinks without added sugars
  • If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so sensibly and in moderation. That means up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks for men.
  • Don’t stop drinking liquids if you have an incontinence problem. Talk with your doctor about treatment and options.
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