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AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. — Water is a wonderful way to beat the summer heat. Adding fruit can take hydration to the next level. Experts from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed) say drinking water is the best choice when enduring warm temperatures. With temperatures routinely reaching the high 90s, choosing water can help avoid dehydration and other heat-related illnesses.
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. Additional signs of dehydration include dry mouth, cracked lips, poor concentration and constipation. 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.
Katie Funderburk, AU SNAP-Ed coordinator and registered dietitian, said it’s also important to keep an eye on children who are playing outside in extreme heat.
“Kids are at greater risk for dehydration than adults, because they naturally have less fluid in their bodies and can lose more water through their skin via sweat and heat exposure compared to adults,” Funderburk said. “Also, they don’t always recognize when they are thirsty. They need reminders and encouragement to drink water throughout the day.”
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 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, fresh fruit, 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 — all of which are from added sugar. When filling up a 24-ounce cup, that’s up to 400 calories. Add in refills and those added sugars and calories can pile up in a hurry.
Look at other amounts of added 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
- Sports drink – 9 teaspoons
- Water – 0 teaspoons
Flavor Water Recipes
To make water more interesting and bursting with flavor, check out these fruit-infused water recipes.
- 40 blackberries, smashed
- 40 mint leaves, torn in half
Blueberry Orange Basil
- Three oranges, quartered
- 30 to 45 blueberries, squeezed
- Nine basil leaves, torn in half
- Oranges, sliced
- Grapefruit, sliced
- Lemons, sliced
- ¼ pineapple, sliced
- ½ orange, sliced with peel
- Four limes, without rind
- 40 raspberries, smashed
- Two kiwis, sliced
- Five strawberries, sliced
- ¼ seedless watermelon
- 2 sprigs of rosemary
For each recipe, mix the ingredients with a gallon of water and stir. Another exciting idea for adding flavor to water, freeze these mixtures in ice trays for homemade popsicles.