Dehydration occurs when your body doesn't have as much fluid as it needs. You lose fluid through breathing, sweating, urinating, bowel movements and, when you're sick, through vomiting or diarrhea. While individual needs vary based on factors such as size and activity level, the daily recommended fluid intake to prevent dehydration is 10 to 15 8-ounce glasses. Because 20 percent of this amount comes from food, aim to drink eight to 13 glasses -- or until you're not thirsty and your urine appears pale or translucent.
Water is the top-recommended source of hydration, and for good reason. Unlike high-calorie sugary drinks, water is calorie-free. It's also affordable and convenient. To up your daily water intake, Dietitians of Canada recommends drinking a glass as soon as you wake up and right before bed. Carry a container of water with you throughout the day, and add a lemon or lime wedge to make it more refreshing. To tantalize your tastebuds further, add chopped fruits and veggies, such as apples, watermelon and cucumber, to a jug of water and refrigerate until cold and flavorful.
Fruits and Veggies
While juices are hydrating, they're also typically high in calories and low in fiber. Dietitians of Canada recommends limiting juices and consuming the whole fruits and vegetables instead. Water accounts for more than 80 percent of most varieties, including starchy vegetables such as potatoes. Grapefruits, strawberries, watermelon, cauliflower, tomatoes, broccoli and cucumbers all consist of more than 90 percent water. To get all of the benefits of whole fruits and vegetables in a drink, make a smoothie by blending low-fat milk or water with whole fruits and vegetables.
Milk provides rich amounts of fluid and essential nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D. Incorporate 2 cups of low-fat dairy or nondairy milk into your daily diet as part of your fluid intake, suggests Dietitians of Canada. With a carbohydrate-to-protein ratio similar to sports recovery drinks, chocolate milk consumed immediately after exercise and again two hours later seems to enhance recovery and prevent muscle damage, according to a "Medicine and Sport Science" report published in 2012. As a good source of fluid and electrolytes, a glass of milk after exercise also guards against dehydration and electrolyte deficiencies from excessive sweat.
Broth is simply seasoned water, which makes many soups a useful and flavorful means of hydration. Replenish lost fluid and sodium after vomiting with a bowl of chicken broth, dietitian Tamara Duker Freuman says in "U.S. News and World Report." If you aren't lacking sodium, stick to low-sodium canned soups or make your own with minimal salt. One cup of canned soup contains 600 to 1,300 milligrams of sodium. A healthy adult's daily limit is 2,000 milligrams.
Is This an Emergency?
- Iowa State University: Fluids
- Dietitians of Canada: Guidelines for Staying Hydrated
- University of Kentucky College of Agriculture: Water Content of Fruits and Vegetables
- Medicine and Sport Science; Chocolate Milk: a Post-Exercise Recovery Beverage for Endurance Sports
- National Library of Medicine: Fluid and Electrolyte Balance
- U.S. Health News and World Report: Stomach Flu Survival Guide: Summer Edition
- Cleveland Clinic: Low-Sodium Diet Guidelines
- University of Rochester Medical Center: Thirst and Dehydration
- U.S. World News and World Report; Milk Does a Body Good, Especially Athletes
- The British Journal of Nutrition: Milk as An Effective Post-Exercise Rehydration Drink