HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Something most people don’t do enough of is drink water, especially college students. "Frequently, whether I'm visiting UAH or Oakwood or even down in Birmingham, I get pushback from students like, well, water, does it taste like anything? It's so boring. I'm like, but it doesn't have to be," Registered Dietitian Cristina Caro with Sodexo shares.
This month, Sodexo is celebrating National Nutrition Month with a focus on hydration. "Among college campuses, I think there is a general pattern of being madly dehydrated, particularly in the afternoons," Caro shares. "So that's why we chose that as given hydration tips and teaching that it's more than just drinking water."
The American Health Association surveyed over 4,000 students and found that 54.5% were inadequately hydrated. This can impact a student’s ability to take in new information or concentrate during school. "When we're thinking about some milder symptoms that your body is giving you cues that it needs fluids, it could be that you just start feeling a little bit tired, especially lacking some mental focus," Caro shares. "Your brains about 75% water, so it's going to recognize when it doesn't have what it needs to do its job, but it might not trigger thirst."
Throughout the day, our bodies naturally lose water volume through perspiration and bathroom breaks. We even lose a little water each time we exhale. If we don’t replenish that water, it’s pretty easy to end up mildly dehydrated just from normal daily activity. Headaches, muscle fatigue and what is lovingly referred to as “brain fog” are the body’s ways of telling us we need to hydrate. "I think sometimes we don't feel thirsty until maybe we've lost one or 2% of our body weight but, you know, it could be lack of mental focus and concentration, possibly even just a little bit of irritability you know, you're not quite yourself," Caro shares. "You also may feel just really tired or fatigued, even though you had plenty of sleep, good quality sleep the night before. Those could be some earlier signs."
Proper hydration is more than just “drinking more water.” A big part of hydration is also making sure you’re replenishing your electrolytes as well. Christina and Sodexo share a few tips on staying hydrated:
How much water should I drink each day?
- The average person should aim to drink at least half of their body weight in fluid ounces. To calculate this, take your body weight (in pounds) / 2 = # (fluid ounces) that are needed daily.
- If you are physically active, then you should aim to drink more than this because your body needs more water to make up for sweating.
What foods can I get electrolytes from naturally?
- Fruits: avocados, strawberries, watermelon, oranges, bananas, tomatoes, olives
- Vegetables: potatoes, broccoli, beans
- Leafy greens: spinach, kale
Make your water fun!
Try fruit-infused ice cubes: Take an ice tray. Slice your choice of fruits or vegetables (recommend fruit options above). Place a few pieces into each slot. Pour your choice of water to cover fruit. Freeze and Enjoy!
Fruit-Infused water: Take a mason jar (or preferred container). Slice fruit or vegetables of your choice (recommend options above). Place slices of fruit into jar. Fill with your choice of water. Allow to sit for 2 hours or overnight. Drink and Enjoy!
How To Make Strawberry Infused Water
- 8 cups of cold filtered water or cold seltzer (carbonated) water
- 1/4 cup fresh mint
- 1 cup strawberries, quartered
- 1 cup of blueberries
- 1 lime, sliced (optional)
- Add mint to bottom of a glass pitcher. Muddle slightly by mashing down on the mint 3-4 times with a wooden spoon.
- Add strawberries, blueberries, and limes to the pitcher. Mix with mint.
- Pour water into pitcher. Place in refrigerator overnight to infuse or chill for 10 minutes, stir, and serve over ice.