Make Hydration Your Destination

By: Kris Sollid, RD Date: 8/28/12

My recent summer travels have reminded me of one very important thing; one of the most critical daily goals for us all is proper hydration.  Whether it's the wind, sun, and saltwater at the beach, long road trips, or the dry airline cabin you experience en route to any of your favorite destinations, staying well hydrated is essential; but it can be challenging.

Does it always have to be water?

Remember the conventional wisdom about staying hydrated?  "Drink eight, 8-ounce glasses of water per day." The phrase has a nice ring to it and is easy to remember, but how closely does this advice need to be followed? Let's take a look.

According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), daily water intake recommendations for adults ages 19 and older are 91 ounces (2.7 liters) for healthy females and 125 ounces (3.7 liters) for healthy males.  The IOM notes that individuals can be adequately hydrated above or below these levels depending upon their level of physical activity and the climate where they live.  Also, the term "water" is not limited to drinking plain water-there are other sources.

While plain water is a great source of hydration, it doesn't have to be your only choice.  If you're anything like me and don't always find plain water appealing, luckily, hydration (pardon the bad pun) is a "fluid" situation.  I say this because all fluids (tea, coffee, juices, sodas, and water) contain water and contribute to hydration.  It's a common misperception that coffee, tea, and other caffeine containing drinks are dehydrating.  While it's true that caffeine can have a diuretic effect, it's also true that such beverages have a net positive effect on daily water intake.  In other words, the water these drinks provide is greater than the fluid lost through urination.  This is certainly good news, but not all fluids are calorie-free like water, so being mindful of your daily calorie needs when choosing a beverage remains important for managing weight.

Food fills us up-with water that is

Just like fluids, many of your favorite foods also contain water and can contribute to hydration. Did you know that about 20% of our daily water intake comes from the foods we eat?  Think outside the bottle and consume plenty of "watery" foods such as fruits, vegetables, and soups.  Some of my favorites include lettuce, watermelon, broccoli, grapefruit, and apples.  Not only are these foods refreshing on a warm summer day, but many provide other beneficial nutrients like vitamin C, fiber, and potassium.

The Bottom Line

Proper hydration is important for living a healthful and active life and fortunately it can be accomplished in many ways.  It's easy to know the signs of dehydration-listen to your body for these clues; dizziness, fatigue, and confusion.  Also, pay attention to the color of your urine-it should be a pale yellow.  If it's darker than that or the volume is small, it may be time to drink up.

Whether you drink eight, 8-ounce glasses of water a day or whether you strive to include a variety of fluids and watery foods in your diet, the key is finding ways that work best for you, within your preferences and your lifestyle.  No matter where your travels may take you, make hydration your destination.

Where have some of your recent travels taken you and what did you do to stay hydrated? Let me hear some of your travel tips below!