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Water, Water Everywhere. (And a Bonus Healthy Meal)

Exercise and Nutrition
Author name: Ashley Lovetere, Lee Health Registered Dietitian

Life in Florida sometimes makes us feel as if we are in a perpetual summer. And as the days get hotter, we all face the risk of dehydration. Our bodies are made up of about 60 percent of water, which is essential for us to function properly.

Here’s a further breakdown of water in our bodies that may surprise you:

  • The brain and heart: 73 percent
  • The lungs: 83 percent
  • The skin: 64 percent
  • Muscles and kidneys: 79 percent

Even your bones contain 31 percent water. So as we move into some of our hottest months, it’s important to stay hydrated. Our physical activity, temperature and health conditions tell us how much water we need throughout the day.

The Ways Water Works in Our Body

Every day you lose water through your breath, perspiration, urine and bowel movements.

To keep your body functioning at its best, you must consume beverages and foods that contain water.

Water helps our bodies perform all kinds of essential functions:

  • Our cells use water as a building material.
  • Water helps metabolize and transport carbohydrates and protein throughout the body.
  • Our body temperature is regulated by sweating and respiration.
  • It helps get rid of waste.
  • It lubricates and cushions our joints.
  • It acts as a shock absorber for the brain and spinal cord.
  • Forms saliva, which is the first step in digestion.
  • Manufacture hormones and neurotransmitters.

How Much Water Should You Drink Every Day?

The amount of water we need to consume daily varies from person to person. Consult your doctor to see if you need to limit or increase your water intake.

As a general rule, if you’re in good health and have no acute or chronic illness, you should aim to consume 104 fluid ounces a day if you’re a man and 80 fluid ounces if you’re a woman, according to the Institute of Medicine.

These recommendations cover fluids from water, other beverages and food. About 20 percent of your daily fluid intake usually comes from food and the rest from drink.

Sports Drinks

You often see athletes use sports drinks before/during or after physical activity. Sports drinks increase the availability of carbohydrates for performance. The added sodium reduces urine losses before the physical activity, too.

After you exercise, it’s important to replace fluids and electrolytes. A sports drink will help replace the water, sugar and salt lost through physical activity.

Tips

Did you know that some of the food you eat contains water? Broccoli is made up of 89 percent water. You can count some of the foods you eat during the day toward your daily hydration.

Don’t wait until you feel thirsty! Go ahead and drink water throughout the day to avoid dehydration.

Get in the habit of drinking water. Set a goal and aim for the minimum recommended of water a day per your doctor’s prescription, especially during outdoor activities.

Drink fluids:

  • As soon as you wake up
  • At each meal
  • In between meals
  • Carry a water bottle everywhere you go

Choose hydrating snacks

Watermelon, cucumber, grapes, oranges, applesauce, yogurt, tomatoes contain a high percentage of water.

Hate the taste of water?

Try adding fruits and herbs to your water. Slice up some fruits and try these fun combos to add some flavors to your water this summer. For more flavor, soak the fruits in the water overnight.

  • Strawberry or raspberry and lemon
  • Pineapple and mango
  • Lemon, cucumber and mint
  • Watermelon and mint

Blueberry Watermelon Feta Mint Salad

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

3 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 cup finely diced red onion

4 cups diced watermelon

1.5 cups fresh blueberries

1/4 cup rough chopped fresh mint leaves

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

1.5 cups arugula

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pepper and diced red onion

  2. Add the diced watermelon, blueberries, mint, and feta cheese.

  3. Add arugula to bowl upon serving.

Resources:

Sports Dietitians Australia

Institute of Medicine

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