Hydration and Nutrition: How Foods Keep You Refreshed and Healthy

June 17, 2024

Did you know that as we age, our sense of thirst decreases? And that we do not adjust to sudden changes in temperature like we did when we were younger? Older adults are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that changes normal body responses to heat and take prescriptive medications that affect body’s ability to control temperature or sweat. Some medications even cause our bodies to lose more body fluids. All of these risk factors noted above combined with the heat of the Texas summer months, puts our older neighbors at a much higher risk of becoming dehydrated.

Dehydration can lead to serious health issues, such as heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and even cardiovascular complications. " Our MOWCTX nutrition team says think of water as “both the delivery and dump truck of the body. Water helps deliver the nutrients we eat to all the organs of the body. In turn, water is the vehicle that removes all the toxic waste produced from metabolism.”

As the Texas summer heat intensifies, staying hydrated becomes more crucial than ever. While drinking water is the most straightforward way to prevent dehydration, incorporating water-rich fruits and vegetables and other foods into your diet can really boost hydration levels! These natural sources of water not only keep you refreshed but also provide essential nutrients and antioxidants that support overall health!

Here are some hydrating tips to include more of nature’s Hydration Heros in your summer diet:

1. Soups: Whether hot or cold, soups are a great way to increase your fluid intake. Opt for clear broths or vegetable-based soups for an extra boost of vitamins and minerals.

2. Decaffeinated Tea: Decaffeinated tea, whether iced or hot, can be a refreshing way to stay hydrated without the diuretic effects of caffeine.

3. Select from these nutritious foods that are naturally high in water content. Water Content Range Food Item 100% Water!

90-99% Fat-free milk, cantaloupe, strawberries, [cucumber], watermelon, lettuce, cabbage, celery, spinach, cooked squash

80-89% Yogurt, apples, grapes, oranges, carrots, cooked broccoli, pears, pineapple 70-79% Bananas, avocados, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, cooked corn

Nutr Rev. 2010 Aug; 68(8): 439–458; doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x

Tips for Incorporating Hydrating Foods

• Salads: Create colorful salads with a mix of lettuce, cucumbers, bell peppers, and strawberries for a hydrating and nutritious meal.

• Smoothies: Blend watermelon, strawberries, and a splash of orange juice for a refreshing summer smoothie.

• Snacks: Keep celery sticks and cucumber slices ready for a quick, hydrating snack. • Fruit Bowls: Combine cantaloupe, watermelon, and oranges in a fruit bowl for a tasty and hydrating dessert. Additional Hydration Tips!

• Carry a Water Bottle: If you are working in the yard or outside in the early part of the day always have a water bottle with you! Sipping water regularly can help you stay hydrated. • Set Reminders: If you often forget to drink water, set reminders on your phone.

• Flavor Your Water: If your plain water isn’t to your taste, add a splash of lemon, lime, or a few slices of cucumber or berries to enhance the taste.

• Limit Caffeine and Alcohol: Both caffeine and alcohol can contribute to dehydration. Try to limit your intake of these beverages, especially during hot weather.

Refreshing Spring-Summer Menu Our Spring-Summer menu features a lot of fresh fruit as well as various cold meal days, including salads and sandwiches with lettuce and tomatoes. These cold meals can be far more refreshing and enjoyable with the increase in temperatures outside. By incorporating hydrating foods into your diet and following these tips, you can enjoy the summer months while keeping dehydration at bay. These natural, delicious options not only quench your thirst but also provide a multitude of health benefits, ensuring you stay cool, refreshed, and healthy all season long.

High Temperatures and Food Safety Tips

During the summer, it’s also important to consider food safety, as harmful bacteria are more likely to grow at room temperature. Both hot and cold foods should be eaten immediately or refrigerated to prevent the growth of bacteria. When in doubt, throw it out! Often, food will grow too much bacteria long before it looks, smells, or tastes bad. Following proper food safety guidelines can help prevent foodborne illnesses, which can be particularly severe for older adults.