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How to Stay Hydrated

Ruth Kandel, MD's picture

It’s one of the most simple, but important things you can do for your body – drink plenty of water. Next to oxygen, water is the most significant nutrient your body needs to function properly. It makes up nearly 70 percent of the human body and plays a vital role in nearly every bodily function, including regulating temperature and carrying nutrients throughout the body.

I often remind my patients of ways to stay hydrated because without proper fluid intake, the body becomes dehydrated. Untreated severe dehydration can lead to seizures, permanent brain damage, and even death. Seniors must take extra precautions because their thirst mechanism is not as sensitive as it once was and they are often not aware that they have become dangerously dehydrated.

It’s also important to note that it can be easy to reach for a glass of water when you feel thirsty. The truth, however, is that thirst is a sign of mild dehydration. Drinking fluids throughout the day can ensure you never reach that point. Staying hydrated can also help with digestion and energy levels.

The following hydration tips will help ensure you are getting enough fluid during the day:

  • Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of liquid every day.  This may need to be modified based on certain medical conditions, how much you exercise or the environment.
  • Limit caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, which increase your body’s fluid needs.
  • Drink throughout the day, not only when you are thirsty.
  • Carry bottled water with you if you’ll be outdoors for an extended period of time.
  • Drink water before, during, and after physical exercise to offset the fluid your body loses through perspiration.
  • Keep track of your fluid intake throughout the day to ensure you stay properly hydrated.

Click here for more ways to stay hydrated

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Geriatrician, Hebrew SeniorLife, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Ruth Kandel obtained her bachelor's degree from State University of New York, Buffalo and her medical degree from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She completed a residency in internal medicine at Boston City Hospital and a geriatrics fellowship at Bedford Veteran's Administration Hospital/Boston University Medical Center. She provides inpatient primary care and is an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. Her academic interests include Alzheimer's disease, memory disorders, and...

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