At this time of year, when the heat and humidity turns oppressive in many parts of the country, dehydration can pose a serious problem. Especially among older adults.
Not to mention, when an older person becomes dehydrated, doctors and caregivers often mistake it for something else.
So, today, let’s discuss WHY dehydration poses such a big risk as you get older. Then, I’ll outline signs to watch out for, along with four simple tips to stay hydrated…
Why dehydration is common among older adults
Typically, your body tells you to drink when it’s time to replenish your fluids. In fact, studies show the amount of water (or liquids) you drink to satisfy your “thirst sensation” naturally matches your fluid needs.
This natural “thirst sensation” stops working when you drink sugary beverages, such as soft drinks, energy drinks, or sports drinks. But it also diminishes as we age. So, older people tend to drink less because they simply don’t feel as thirsty.
Of course, older people with mobility or incontinence problems may purposefully limit fluid intake because they have trouble getting to the kitchen or bathroom themselves. Even healthy adults tend to limit their fluids in the evening, so they don’t have to get up to visit the bathroom in the middle of the night. And older adults who live alone (or continue to face social isolation as the coronavirus pandemic restrictions drag on) just tend to drink fewer liquids, too.
Not to mention, certain health conditions (such as Type II diabetes and kidney disease) and common medications (such as diuretics and laxatives) can also cause dehydration.
Even a simple bout of gastrointestinal (GI) upset can cause loss of fluids. (So, make sure to support a healthy GI microbiome by eating plenty of prebiotic foods—such as whole milk, full-fat cheese and yogurts—as part of a balanced diet. And skip the useless and potentially dangerous probiotic pills, as I often report.)
Staying optimally hydrated is crucial
Of course, in order to help prevent dehydration, you need to also understand what to look out for. Some signs include:
- Dark urine
- Extreme thirst
- High body temperature
- Muscle cramps
- Sweating profusely (which can lead to dehydration)
And to ward it off, you don’t need to obsessively glug gallons of water throughout the day. In fact, constantly guzzling more water can disrupt your electrolyte balance—causing brain and heart problems…and sometimes even death. (Especially if you’re on a misguided, low-salt diet.)
Instead, follow these four simple tips…
1.) Aim to take in about a cup of liquid every two hours. Feel free to enjoy many different types of beverages…including spring water (bottled in glass at the source), herbal infusions, herbal teas, coconut water, full-fat milk, and coffee. (Remember, science shows drinking coffee does NOT cause dehydration. On the contrary, it can count toward your daily fluid intake.)
Now, I know many older adults enjoy a cup of juice in the morning as part of their traditional breakfast. Just remember, prepackaged juices such as “cranberry juice cocktail” often contain a lot of added sugars. So—make sure you choose a brand made with 100 percent whole juice and no added sugars. You can also make your own freshly squeezed juice and smoothies in the morning using whole fruits, which is what I like to do myself in Florida.
And finally, beer also counts toward your fluid intake…and it offers various additional health benefits, too! In fact, I report on five reasons to toast the end of summer with a cold one in the current issue of my monthly newsletter, Insiders’ Cures (“America’s favorite brew offers significant health benefits”). Subscribers have access to this report and all of my archives. So, if you haven’t already, consider signing up today. Click here now!
2.) Eat five whole fruits and vegetables throughout the day. Not only does science show this is the optimal amount for nutrition, but it can also help improve your hydration.
Some of the most-hydrating whole fruits include:
Some of the most-hydrating whole vegetables include:
- Tomatoes (technically, a type of fruit)
3.) At mealtimes, consider eating broth-based soups. Obviously, this counts toward your fluid intake. And at this time of year, you can even enjoy cold soup, such as gazpacho.
4.) Add 400 to 500 mg a day of South African rooibos extract (also called “aspal” or “red bush”) to your supplement regimen. Rooibos helps fire up your mitochondria, your cells’ energy factories, and helps you stay hydrated on a cellular level. You can find rooibos in powdered form, together with other healthy foods like blueberry and rose hips, and in capsules, together with dandelion.
So, as we continue with this summertime heat, use these tips to stay properly hydrated. (In fact, you can—and SHOULD—use them year-round.) It’s one of the best things you can do for your health…especially as you get older.