Let's Talk About: Staying hydrated

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Last week, we learned that our bodies sweat to cool us down and we must replenish those liquids to keep our body temperature and liquid balance steady. Because our bodies are approximately 60 percent water, it's important to replace the liquid we lose. The physical effects of dehydration can be scary. Warning signs include dizziness, difficulty breathing, vomiting or fatigue.

Another way to tell if you are dehydrated is by examining your urine. Our bodies remove excess water and waste through our urine. If your urine is a dark shade, it can indicate dehydration. If your urine is clear, it can mean over hydrating. Healthy urine should be a straw or light yellow color.

Water is the most common solution for replenishing liquid loss. It's odorless, colorless and tasteless. After continuous consumption, however, it can cause bloat, making it harder to drink the suggested eight glasses a day. To make water more palatable, add fresh fruit or herbs such as mint. Freeze water with blackberries, cucumber or lemons in ice cube trays. This adds flavor as the ice melts.

It may be easier to grab a fruit juice, soda, tea or coffee. However, these items contain more than just water. Fructose reduces the rate of water absorption. Caffeine is a diuretic, causing the kidneys to pull more water out of the system. All have sugar, and too much sugar can add unnecessary calories.

For strenuous activity that causes more perspiration and electrolyte loss, a great solution is a sports drink. Many brands are on the market, and more are popping up yearly. Basically, they are composed of water, sugar (carbohydrates), salt (electrolytes) and flavor. For a homemade recipe that's easy to put together and will make 4 servings, combine 4 cups water, 1/4 cup (100 percent) fruit juice, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir together until dissolved. Enjoy the heat and stay hydrated.

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