AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Drinking water may be the best way to beat the hot Alabama temperatures that arrive with summer. With temperatures routinely reaching the high 90s, even the walk from the car to the office is enough to make someone reach for a cold drink.
Sofia Sanchez, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System registered dietician, said the drink that will pack the biggest punch on hot and humid days is good, old-fashioned water. With higher temperatures, the human body loses water more frequently, leading to dehydration.
How much water is enough?
Determining how much water a person needs isn’t an exact science. There is the well-known rule of eight cups a day to equal 64 ounces.
“The actual amount of water a person needs is determined by age, gender, activity levels and overall health,” Sanchez said.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, healthy adult men and women get about 20 percent of their daily water from food. With those figures in mind, women need about nine cups of water each day, and men need about 12 ½ cups to replenish water lost throughout the day. If a person is more active each day, they will need to drink more water to avoid dehydration. Also, an increased water intake is also necessary for sick individuals.
Dehydration can lead to headaches, dizziness, fatigue and extreme thirst, as well as other health-related issues. However, it’s best to drink water throughout the day before symptoms begin to show. A quick and easy way to check for sufficient water intake is to examine urine color. Individuals who drink enough water should have pale, yellow-colored urine. If it’s dark yellow or amber, it is probably a good idea to increase water intake.
Increasing Water Intake
While drinking enough water each day is essential to a healthy lifestyle, a few small changes can be made each day to increase water consumption without too much disruption.
When thirsty, drink water. If the typical drink of choice is a soda or sugary drink, try to replace one of those drinks each day with water.
Drink water with meals. Try to make it a habit to replace mealtime beverages with cold water.
Be prepared. Carry a refillable water bottle so there is water readily available at all times. If a water fountain is nearby, this makes it easier to fill it up throughout the day.
Add flavors. Water doesn’t have to be the same each time. Use lemon juice or a few cucumber slices to add variety.
Drinking water instead of sweet tea, soda, fruit juice or other sugary drinks can save hundreds of calories. A 12-ounce can of regular soda contains 140 to 200 calories. If you fill up a large 24-ounce cup, you’re pouring up to 400 calories. If you go back for a refill, those calories can pile up in a hurry. Cutting back on sugary drinks can not only reduce calorie intake, but will also make you feel better physically.
Take a look at other amounts of sugar in the following sugary drinks. (Numbers are based on 20-ounce servings.)
- Fruit punch – 18 teaspoons
- Energy drink – 16 teaspoons
- Sweet tea – 14 teaspoons
- Sport drink – 9 teaspoons
- Water – 0 teaspoons
Orange Cranberry Water
To make your water more interesting, try this recipe for a fruit-infused orange cranberry water.
- 2 oranges, sliced
- Fresh or frozen cranberries, 2 cups
- Ice cubes, 2 cups
Simply place ingredients into a clear pitcher, fill with water, stir gently and chill for an hour before serving. Cheers! Tip: Try different types of fruit to switch it up. Keep trying combinations until you find something you love.