July and August are typically the hottest months in Arkansas. The average high is 92 degrees Fahrenheit for July and 93 degrees Fahrenheit for August. However Arkansans know it is not unusual for the temperature to break 100 at least a day or two in July or August. In warmer years the temperature may stay above 100 for several days or even a week or more. Taking in adequate fluids to prevent dehydration becomes especially important in the warmer months when we may be losing more fluids through sweat.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine states that an adequate daily fluid intake is about 15.5 cups of fluids for men and about 11.5 cups of fluids for women. Sound like a lot? Keep in mind that you get fluids from foods as well as from water or other beverages such as tea, milk and juice. Did you know that watermelon is 92 percent water and cucumber is a whopping 96 percent water? On average we get about 20 percent of our fluid intake from foods and the rest from drinks.
When you are sweating a lot (or losing fluids in other ways such as vomiting or diarrhea) you may need additional fluid. For mild fluid losses water is generally adequate. However if you are sweating profusely — think of a person working outside in the sun or doing vigorous exercise for an hour or more — you may also need to replace electrolytes (or minerals). We lose some sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and other trace minerals along with water in our sweat.
We can replace these minerals by having a beverage containing electrolytes such as milk or flavored milk, or sports drinks such as Gatorade, Powerade or Propel. Another way to replace electrolytes and fluid is simply to eat food along with water, for example a banana or orange and a few pretzels.
In clinical practice I meet many people who say they don’t like the taste of water. Water is flavorless; however, if you have sampled unfiltered tap water from many places you are probably aware that water in different areas does have a different taste. That is related to the minerals, filtration and treatment.
The best tasting water I’ve ever had came from an orange plastic 2 gallon water jug that had a quart size block of ice floating in it, slowly melting throughout the day and keeping the water cool. This was my father’s water jug that he used when out working in the fields. He was a farmer and spent many long hot days out in the sun. He would share a drink with me from that jug if I happened to be “helping” and didn’t have my own water jug.
Some of the tips my patients have shared for dealing with not liking the taste of water or to increase their water intake are below.
- Carry water with you, keep it handy to sip throughout the day
- Use bottled water or filtered water
- Add commercial flavor packet or drops, or fruit juice such as lemon or lime, or add fruits, vegetables or herbs such as cucumber and basil
- Change the temperature. Some people prefer water that is room temperature or ice cold
- Use a specific type of container such as plastic, paper, glass or metal.
- Drink on a schedule. Some people make it a point to drink at specific times; for example to have a cup before breakfast, midway between meals and with meals, before and after exercise, etc.
- Take water breaks if you are working or exercising outside for long periods of time