by Mary Parker Draper, Extension Agent – Smith County

Don’t Wait, Hydrate!

Are you feeling thirsty? Chances are, you may be dehydrated. Thirst is usually the very first symptom experienced with dehydration. According to the Mayo Clinic, dehydration occurs when your body uses or loses more fluid than it is taking in, causing normal body functions to be impaired.

Dehydration can affect any age group, but can be particularly dangerous with young children and older adults. With little ones, they either can’t express thirst or their busy little minds are too preoccupied with other fun activities. Signs and symptoms for this age group would be different from that of an adult; dry mouth and tongue, no tears when crying, irritability, and no wet diapers for three hours, to name a few. Some signs for an adult would include thirst, dry or sticky mouth, fatigue, rapid heartbeat, dark colored or lack of urine, muscle cramps, headache, dizziness, and rapid breathing. As we progress to our elder years, dehydration risk increases. It can occur for a number of reason, whether it be illness, side effects of medications, or the ability to remember. Regardless of the age group, the importance of drinking water is the same.

With the human body being composed of up to 60% water, stay hydrated is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Thankfully, because of the part of the world we live in, water is both economical and readily available. So, now this poses the question of how much water is needed on a daily basis. Unfortunately, there isn’t a hard and fast number that fit everyone. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Complete Food & Nutrition Guide, daily water intake can be estimated with simple math based on a person’s body weight. To do this calculation, divide the number of pounds of body weight by 2 equaling the amount in ounces of water recommended to drink per day. While this is a recommendation, it is important to note that daily water intake can differ based on a person’s physical activity, chronic illnesses, or medication. To be safe it is always recommended to consult with your healthcare provider. It is also important to pay attention to what your body is telling you to avoid risk of dehydration.

Now that you know the signs of dehydration and how to calculate your recommended amount of daily water intake, let’s touch on the benefits. Here are some of the more common benefits of proper water intake:

  • Prevents dehydration, which contributes to many health conditions.
  • Decreases the risk of kidney stones.
  • Helps to prevent or relieve constipation.
  • Provides cushion and lubrication for joints.
  • Helps regulate body temperature.
  • Helps kidneys to filter properly and rid waste from our body.

The list of benefits could really go on and on. For further information on staying hydrated contact Mary Parker Draper at the extension office at 615-735-2900.

Check out this week’s “Food for Thought” recipe for Panera Tomato Basil Soup! This week’s recipe was submitted by Frances Hackett, Elmwood/Chestnut Mound FCE.

Panera Tomato Basil Soup

2 (28 oz.) cans crushed tomatoes

14.5 oz. (2 cups) chicken broth

½ stick butter

1 teaspoon dried basil or 15-20 fresh chopped leaves

1 tablespoon sugar

1 cup half and half

Pinch of salt to taste

Mix tomatoes, broth, basil and sugar in large pot. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, let simmer at least 10-15 minutes. Add butter and cream, stir and leave on low heat until butter melts. Can also be made in crock pot, just add cream before serving.