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Drink Up!

Tuesday, November 22 2011 2:14 AM

Dehydration is a dangerous condition at any age. Chronic dehydration can cause fever, gastritis, heartburn, arthritis, headaches, depression, weight problems, premature aging and organ failure, among other issues.

The best way to avoid dehydration is to make sure you get enough fluid in your diet. As we age, we need to pay even closer attention to our hydration level for a number of reasons, including: 

  • The percentage of body weight made up by water decreases as we age. For example, a 70-year-old man’s weight may be 50 percent water, compared to 60 percent when he was younger.
  • The efficiency of our kidneys can decline as we age.
  • The sensation of thirst declines with age, so you might be less likely to realize you are thirsty than when you were younger.
  • Declines in physical condition and the ability to perform routine daily activities, such as buying and/or preparing food and beverages, can have a negative impact on food and fluid intake.
  • Confusion and poor memory can impact eating and drinking habits.

Keep in mind that your environment has an impact on hydration. If you are in a humid climate, you will lose more fluid as you perspire. Medications and illnesses may also have an impact on your fluid level. You will probably never talk to a doctor or pharmacist who tells you to drink less water when fighting an illness or taking a certain medication. Generally speaking, it is almost always better to drink too much than too little.

Understanding where fluid is found in your diet is important. You can increase your hydration level by eating foods that contain a high percentage of fluid, such as soups, fruits and vegetables, gelatins, sherbet and ice cream. Did you need an excuse to eat more ice cream?

Other steps that can help to prevent dehydration include:

  • Drink fluids not only during, but between meals.
  • Encourage your family and friends to drink more fluids, and ask them to hold you accountable to do the same.
  • Keep fluids nearby especially in hot, humid weather.
  • Watch for early signs of dehydration, such as concentrated urine and dry mouth.

The amount of fluid you need every day depends on your height, weight, age and medical history. For more information about your specific fluid needs, talk to a registered dietitian or your healthcare provider.

By Paula Bohlen, MS, RD, LDN, LNHA
Dietary Consultant
Source: www.good-sam.com

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