With warmer temperatures coming our way, it’s especially important to stay hydrated. Our bodies really need water; it makes up about 60% of our body weight. Nearly every bodily function depends on it. Water helps the body regulate temperature, cushion joints, remove toxins and keep organs running smoothly. Without enough water we can start to feel dizzy, fatigued and confused.

This means staying hydrated is a top priority for your daily to-do list. How much fluid you need depends on whether you are male or female, your age, the weather, physical activity level and overall health. This is a quick guide for daily fluid goals.

1 to 5 years old: 1 to 5 cups

6 to 8 years old: 7 cups

9 to 13 years old: males need 10 cups and females need 9 cups

14 to 18 years old: males need 14 cups and females need 10 cups

18 years and older: males need 15 1/2 cups and females need 11 1/2 cups. If you are pregnant, you need 12 1/2 cups. If you are breastfeeding, you need 16 cups

Some helpful hints for staying hydrated are:

Bring variety to your beverages. Sparkling water, unsweetened tea, decaf coffee and skim milk are healthy and hydrating drink choices. Steer clear of sodas, energy drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages — these add calories and are less hydrating.

Eat your water. Fruits and vegetables are fantastic sources of water, and also offer a satisfying crunch. Melons, berries, lettuce, cucumbers and celery contain lots of water and will keep your body nourished and count toward your daily needs.

Order water when eating out. Not only will this help you meet your water goals, but it will also save you money.

Feeling bored? Reach for a healthy drink. When we’re bored or distracted, it can be easy to mindlessly munch on whatever’s close. Before grabbing a snack, try drinking a healthy beverage to satisfy your craving.

Pack a water bottle. Keeping a water bottle on hand will help you keep track of your fluid intake and motivate you to drink more.

If you do not love plain water, or just feel like switching it up, try making infused water. First, find a pitcher or large mason-type jar. Next, pick two of your favorite fruits, vegetables or herbs. Popular combinations include strawberry-lemon, cucumber-mint and mango-pineapple.

Rinse the fruits, vegetables or herbs before slicing into small pieces or slices. In general, a great place to start is one cup of or one piece of fruit or vegetable and eight to 12 leaves of herbs per half gallon of water. Then you can explore to find the right taste for you. Refrigerate for at least four hours. Then enjoy.

Keep these hints in mind as you challenge yourself to drink (and eat!) plenty of water this month.

BLACKBERRY AND BASIL SPRITZER

2 cups lemon sparkling water

2 cups ice cubes (6-7 large cubes)

2 cups blackberries

2 tablespoons honey

1 lime (1/2 lime juiced, 1/2 cut into wedges)

3 basil leaves

Combine all ingredients, except basil, in a blender and blend on high speed until completely mixed. Strain mixture through sieve to separate blackberry seeds. Pour in three glasses, add one basil leaf to each drink and serve with lime wedge.

Yield: 3 (16 ounce) servings

Nutritional Analysis: 90 calories; 0 g fat; 0 g saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 30 mg sodium; 22g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 15 g sugar; 1 g protein

Editor’s note: Information for this article was obtained from Courtney Luecking, Extension specialist in Food and Nutrition; Heather Norman-Burgdolf, Extension specialist for Nutrition and Health; and Grace Anderson, Human Nutrition student. The recipe with this article is from the Plate it Up! Kentucky Proud collection.

Reach Cecelia Hostilo, Trigg County Extension agent for family and consumer sciences, at P. O. Box 271 (2657 Old Hopkinsville Road), Cadiz, KY 42211, by phone at 270-522-3269, fax at 270-522-9192 or email cecelia.hostilo@uky.edu.

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