Did you know as you age your sense of thirst becomes harder to recognise, which is why you may not realise you are dehydrated until other signs and symptoms arise?
Summer has arrived and as the weather warms up and you begin spending more time outdoors it’s important to stay hydrated to keep your body functioning at its best. Keeping hydrated is important to help cool your body, excrete waste products, prevent dry mouth and promote cardiovascular health.
Your body is made up of 50-65% water. Approximately 70% of your body’s fluid is contained in your cells, with the remaining 30% contained within your blood plasma, organs and the space between blood vessels and cells.
Dehydration occurs when there is excess fluid loss from the body due to inadequate fluid intake, illness, prolonged physical activity and exposure to high temperatures. This results in an imbalance of minerals, electrolytes and water in your body which can have serious health impacts and can exacerbate any existing conditions you may have.
Look out for these signs of dehydration:
- Dry mouth and sunken eyes
- Feeling fatigued
- Light headedness
- Confusion and dizziness
- Low blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Decreased urinary output
So how much do you need to drink or consume to keep up your levels of hydration?
Given each day we lose around 2.5L of water a day through urine, faeces, sweat and insensible water loss – we all need to be replacing our fluids regularly. The recommended* fluid intake for people over 50 is 2.1 litres for women and 2.6 litres for men. (*Australian Gov. National Health & Medical Research Council)
It is also important to remember to stay hydrated before, during, and after structured exercise, outdoor activities and walks as there is an increase of your fluid losses from sweat. Exposure to high temperatures, fever, diarrhoea and vomiting will also increase you water elimination.
Here are 5 tips to increase your fluid intake
- Include a drink with all meals and mid-meals.
- Leave a water bottle or water jug in house areas that you frequently visit.
- When travelling take a water bottle with you
- Keep a fluid tally or set an alarm every 1-2 hours as a reminder to have a drink.
- Fluid doesn’t have to be in the form of drinks. Yoghurt, custard, ice-cream, icy-poles, jelly, fruit, soups and stews also increase your fluid intake.
Why not fill up a jug of water, pop in a few icecubes and a slice of lemon or cucumber, and start rehydrating now!
This information is for the general population.
Author – Kate McDermott, Accredited Practicing Dietitian, 1.10.2020*