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June 15, 2010

Summertime Sippin'

The Hood Answer Mom, Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D.

Your body is about two-thirds fluid, which makes perfect sense when you consider that every life-giving bodily function depends on it.   

Maintaining fluid balance is your body's top priority, and proper hydration should be on your mind, especially during the summer. With enough fluid on board, you're able to make up for fluid lost through activities such as sweating and breathing, and you're able to rid your body of the heat generated by your muscles during physical activity.

How much fluid do you, and your children, need every day?

According to the Institute of Medicine, younger children should drink four to five cups (one cup = 8 ounces) of fluid every day. Boys and girls ages nine to 13 years need seven to 11 cups of fluid daily, and adults require nine to 13 cups. 

Summertime fluid needs for you and your kids

Warm weather may increase fluid requirements, depending on the temperature and your physical activity. How will you know when you need more fluid? 

Thirst is one indicator of dehydration, but you may already be dehydrated by the time you're thirsty. Feeling dizzy, disoriented, or lightheaded; having a dry or sticky mouth; and producing less urine and darker urine are all signs that the body needs fluid right away.

It's best to drink fluid throughout the day to avoid dehydration.  Children are more likely than adults to become dehydrated during the summer because of their smaller size. It's especially important to offer kids fluid instead of letting them rely on their thirst to guide them.

You need fluid, but not necessarily water.

You don't need to drink all of your fluid as plain water, although water is the best calorie-free option. Beverages such as Hood Milk, juice, and coffee count toward meeting fluid quotas. (Caffeinated coffee causes some water loss, but if you consume caffeine on a regular basis, your body adjusts to it.) 

Chocolate milk is a natural recovery drink.  

Sipping Hood Premium Chocolate Milk or fruit smoothies made with chocolate milk is a great way to work in fluid. Even better, chocolate milk is a natural recovery drink for people who exercise, and is just as effective as some commercial sports drinks.

Drinking chocolate milk after a work out helps the body retain, replenish, and rebuild muscle. Chocolate milk has the right mix of carbohydrate and protein to help refuel tired muscles. Plus, the protein in milk of any kind helps build muscle. Simply Smart Chocolate Fat Free Milk provides even more protein than regular chocolate milk, as well as more bone-building calcium.

Fluid is found in foods, too.

Fruits and vegetables are loaded with the fluid that your body needs.  For example, watermelon is aptly named: it's 97% water by weight. Munching on melon, and other fruits and vegetables instead of fatty snacks goes a long way to helping you get the fluid you need this summer, and all year-round. 


Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D., is a writer, nutrition consultant, and mother of three. She is the author of several books, including MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better and Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, & After Pregnancy . Ward is also a contributing writer for Muscle & Fitness Hers and Men's Fitness magazines.

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