When in doubt, hit the spout – within reason

When in doubt, hit the spout – within reason

New Wave Nightingale(July 2, 2023) — Now that summer is here, the weather has finally decided to get with the program and bring the heat. The East Bay is known for its pockets of scorching dry heat to rival Tucson in spring. Over this 4th of July weekend the temperature has reached triple digits.

The heat leads to thirst and the need to remain vigilantly hydrated. When it comes to hydration, I place people into two broad camps: obsessive and incidental.

Obsessive types often carry oversized water bottles and apply great diligence to drinking, tracking and refilling. They are the long-distance runners of the hydration world.

Incidental types are more akin to sprinters. They tend to hydrate in bursts but less frequently. This group also relies less on plain water as the primary source, with much hydration coming from other liquids.

There isn’t a right or wrong way to hydrate – except for absolute extremes leading to dangerous imbalances of electrolytes. Thirst is a marvelously efficient system for keeping us out of the danger zone but may not always keep us at peak hydration.

How much should you drink?

When in doubt, hit the spout – within reason
The conventional wisdom around water drinking remains aiming for 8 glasses per day. But is that enough? (Photo by Bluewater Sweden on Unsplash.com)

This brings us to the question: How much is enough? While simple enough to ask, there isn’t an easy answer. Studies over the years have yielded various recommendations, but most experts agree that each individual’s needs depend upon overall health, activity level and climate.

The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine states that an adequate intake of fluid is 3.7 liters (124 ounces) daily for men and 2.7 liters (92 ounces) for women. These figures include not just water but all drinks and food, which accounts for an average of 20% of fluid consumption.

The conventional wisdom around water drinking remains aiming for 8 glasses (64 ounces) per day. While significantly shy of the U.S. National Academies’ recommendation, it is an acceptable minimum intake for most people. Obsessive types often have bottles that accommodate twice that and the commitment and discipline to down it. Incidental types may refill their coffee or tea cups several times before changing beverages.

For most people, the combination of thirst and discipline equals adequate hydration. Extra hydration is important before exercise and in hot, humid weather. While water is the best form of hydration, any water-based beverage will do the job. It is, of course, best to limit drinks containing sugar or artificial sweeteners.

As a proud incidental type, I drink a lot of iced tea and carbonated water. (Yes, I live on the wild side.) These easily meet my hydration needs under normal circumstances but may earn me some “side eye” from obsessive type family members.

Many foods also promote hydration, such as watermelon and spinach which are high in water content.

To objectively check in on positive hydration status, take stock of your thirst level (low to none) and the color of your urine (pale yellow, not concentrated).

Never drink water past the point of reason with the idea of preventing dehydration as this can overtax the kidneys and cause hyponatremia, a life-threatening condition. Aside from that, hydration is good, clean fun no matter which type of hydrator you may be.

Happy summer and as they say in the Old Country, Slainte!

Please send comments and question to Nathalie by email to newwavenightingale@gmail.com.

Nathalie Montijo
Nathalie Montijo

Nathalie Raven Archangel-Montijo holds a rather interesting array of degrees and certifications, including master’s in nursing and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). She has post-master certification as an adult geriatric primary care nurse practitioner (AGPCNP) and a license to practice acupuncture in California (L.Ac). To round all that out, she is certified in infection prevention and control (CIC) and as an advanced certified Hospice and palliative care nurse (ACHPN).

She also performs in the outlaw country band, Nineteen Hand Horse.