Eat and drink enough fluids this summer

Aug 11, 2016 by Carol Bareuther

ART: TAKE IT IN Aqua Fresca PHOTO by Carol Bareuther

The hot days of August are sure to bring on a need for hydration no matter if you’re in South Florida or the south of France. Does this mean drinking eight or more cups of water each day? Yes, you do need to take in enough fluids for good health. No, you don’t need to drink it all as water. In fact, you can drink and also eat your way to good hydration during the scorching days of summer.

Men require about 13 cups (three liters) and women nine cups (2.2 liters) of fluid daily, according to the U.S. Institute of Medicine. This fluid is vital to replenish what is lost each day and to provide a water-based environment on the inside of our bodies that carries nutrients to cells via the blood, provides a moist environment for throat and nose, and flushes toxins out of the body. High temperatures, strenuous exercise and any illness such as vomiting or diarrhea can increase fluid needs even more.

The operative word for good hydration is fluid rather than water. That’s because fluids such as milk and juice also provide necessary liquids. In fact, skim and full-fat milk and 100 percent orange juice rate higher for hydration capability than water and sports drinks. This is according to a study published by UK researchers in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. These scientists wanted to find a way to identify beverages that promoted longer-term fluid retention and maintained fluid balance over time for those who wanted to stay hydrated but either were limited in how often they could stop for a drink or couldn’t take frequent bathroom breaks.

Interestingly, regular cola also rated higher than water in its dehydration-preventing potential, while diet cola, sports drinks, lager, tea and coffee ranked the same or less effective as plain water.

Coffee is another good parch-stopping fluid. This is contrary to popular belief that the caffeine in coffee is a diuretic that causes dehydration. In fact, UK researchers writing in the scientific journal PLoS One in 2014 showed that coffee acted the same as water in hydrating the 50 men in the study who drank between three and six cups of coffee daily.

It’s possible to eat your fluids by biting into plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Spanish researchers published an article last year in the journal Nutrición Hospitalaria that showed fresh produce provided three-fourths of the non-beverage water intake among the nearly 500 study participants.

Plus, produce is a rich sources of minerals essential for fluid balance such as potassium and magnesium. Cucumbers, lettuce, zucchini, radishes, celery, tomatoes, green cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, red cabbage, peppers, spinach and broccoli all contain over 90 percent water by weight. Fruits such as watermelon, strawberries, grapefruit and cantaloupe provide the most water. Beyond this, all fruits and vegetables provide a good source of water.

So, to be sure and maintain good hydration this summer, drink plenty of fluids including milk, orange juice and water, and be sure to add fresh fruits and vegetables to all meals and snacks. It’s a recipe for hydration as well as good nutrition.

Carol Bareuther is a registered dietitian and freelance health and nutrition writer. Contact her through