Updated: Aug 30, 2022
Recipes contributed by Zoë Nouet Robins and Paola Rossi
We’ve all heard that water is life and it’s the one thing that human beings can’t live without, yet many struggle with hydration on a daily basis. Want to know a secret? Hydration does not come just from drinking water. Here are some CRANE Lab tips for staying hydrated without carrying a water bottle all the time, as well as recommendations on how much water you actually need!
How much water should you drink?
Each person has unique hydration needs based on age, gender, weight, health condition, and--in the case of cancer survivors--the specific treatment plan.
The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine recommends 125 ounces (15.5 cups, 3.7 liters) for men and 91 ounces (11.4 cups, 2.7 liters) for women for total daily fluid intake from both food and beverages. About 80% of this amount will be from beverages alone, making the recommendation approximately 100 ounces (12.5 cups, 2.9 liters) for men and 72 ounces (9 cups, 2.1 liters) for women from only beverages each day.
In Florida, it's a good idea to aim for 15 cups of fluid for men and 11 cups fluid for women.
Certain factors may increase your need for fluids, such as:
Exercise. If you do any activity that makes you sweat, you need to drink extra water to cover the fluid loss. It's important to drink water before, during and after a workout.
Environment. Hot or humid weather can make you sweat and requires additional fluid. Dehydration also can occur at high altitudes.
Overall health. Your body loses fluids when you have a fever, vomiting or diarrhea. Drink more water or follow a doctor's recommendation to drink oral rehydration solutions.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding. If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, you may need additional fluids to stay hydrated.
Certain factors may also decrease your tolerance for extra fluids, such as hypertension (high blood pressure), heart failure, kidney disease, and certain medications. You should always talk to your healthcare provider regarding your personal fluid needs.
What should you eat and drink to stay hydrated?
The good news is that, although water is one of the best options for hydration, many other options are available.
What to drink. Sparkling water, smoothies, juices, milk, tea and even coffee count toward your daily fluid goal.
What to eat. Fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, lettuce, cabbage, celery, pickles, and squashes.
Red alert: Remember that caffeinated beverages such as coffee and tea, alcohol, sugar-sweetened beverages, and commercial fruit juices are dehydrating.
Caffeine is a mild diuretic, meaning that at high doses it can cause your body to make more urine than usual, leading to less water in your body. Alcohol is a much stronger diuretic, even at lower amounts, and has a much longer-lasting effect in the body. Sugar-sweetened beverages like sodas, sweet tea, energy drinks and sports drinks, as well as commercial (not fresh-squeezed) fruit juices have high contents of sugar and sodium that can cause a hypernatremic effect, where water is pulled from your tissues, leaving your body with less fluid in it.
What even are electrolytes?
Electrolytes are minerals, including sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, and calcium, that are critical in maintaining key body functions--especially fluid balance, which is essential for hydration. You may need electrolytes after prolonged exercising or exercising in the Florida heat, after excessive alcohol intake, or after being very sick with vomiting and diarrhea. If you think you may need electrolytes, it is a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider to make sure first as there are some health conditions where it would not be safe to add electrolytes without medical supervision.
You can find electrolytes in sports drinks, supplements, energy gels, powders, and more. Many of these options, especially sports drinks, are high in sugar which can be problematic for hydration as well as overall health. Healthier electrolyte options include coconut water and bottled water with added electrolytes.
Know what dehydration looks and feels like
A mild dehydration may start with fatigue or excessive tiredness, weakness, light-headedness or constipation and bloating. If you experience these symptoms, drinking extra fluids would be a good idea.
A more serious dehydration may have dark yellow urine or a decrease in urination, dry skin or lips, or a headache. More alarming symptoms could be nausea, vomiting, disorientation, inability to sweat, rapid heartbeat and even low blood pressure. If you or a loved one is experiencing one or more signs of serious dehydration, they should begin sipping water slowly and you should contact urgent healthcare services immediately.
Finally, as promised, a hydrating and delicious watermelon, cucumber, and grape salad for summer!
1/2 medium watermelon
2 medium cucumbers
Hemp seeds (optional)
Cut watermelon into bite-size cubes and place in large bowl
Peel (if desired) and cut cucumbers into bite-size cubes and add to bowl
Slide grapes in half and add to bowl
Squeeze the lemon juice over the fruit
Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the fruit
Gently stir fruit. Top with a sprinkle of hemp seeds for crunch.
Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat. Enjoy!