May 2007 Edition
Healthwise: Beat The Heat With Adequate Fluid Intake

Beat the Heat with Adequate Fluid Intake

By Suzanne Berryman, R.D.


While summer is the perfect season to enjoy the great outdoors, the hot temperatures can increase the risk of dehydration. To avoid risk, be sure to drink plenty of water and other fluids because thirst alone may not be an adequate guide. 


Why is Hydration so Important?

Water makes up about 60-70% of the human body and replenishing it is essential to almost all of our body's functions.  Water is necessary for optimal digestion, transporting nutrients throughout the body, expelling toxins, regulating blood pressure and cushioning joints and organs.  In the hot summer heat, water is also essential for temperature control and keeping us cool.


Your Daily Water Needs    

We lose up to 2 litres of water a day through normal body function.  To keep our bodies working well, we

need to replace a minimum of 2 litres of fluid - about 8-12 250 milliliters servings per day.  Keep in mind that this amount will increase if the weather is hot or if physical activity is higher than normal.  Beverages such as water, milk, fruit juices, sports drinks and even coffee and tea contribute the majority (80%) of fluid intake, while fruits and vegetables with high water content make up a smaller amount (20%).


How will I Know if I Have Become Dehydrated?

A person may experience mild dehydration (1-2% loss of body water) before even becoming thirsty, so it is important to drink water throughout the day and not just when you are thirsty.  Symptoms of mild dehydration include a lack of concentration, headaches, low energy and lightheadedness. The volume and colour of urine is also a good indicator - apple juice colour indicates dehydration, while lots of lemon juice colour signals good hydration.  


Tips For Foodservice Operators:

Summer is the perfect season to promote your water sales to increase your bottom line and encourage your customers to stay well hydrated. 

With the general public becoming more aware of the health advantages of drinking water, the beverage industry has expanded to meet this need. 

While natural tasting bottled water is a good staple to have on the menu, not everyone enjoys clear water.  To increase your bottled water consumption, consider offering flavoured waters on the menus.  Exotic blends such as mango and peach are popular summertime choices. 


Take-away or cafeteria style restaurants can display various flavoured waters in the refrigerator area.  When placed in front of them and given time to browse, customers are more willing to try something new rather than ordering from a wall menu.  Another great idea is showcasing packages of drink mix sticks at the register.  The calorie-free powder is an easy impulse sale, plus it doesn't go bad or take up space in the cooler.


One last trend that is becoming popular in white table cloth restaurants is giving customers a choice of water rather than automatically filling up their glasses.  Many restaurants offer tap, bottled and carbonated alternatives in order to meet their customers' needs.  The selection of bottled water can be extensive so many clients choose

their water based on the source.  For example, Pellegrino which is bottled in Italy is commonly served in Italian restaurants, whereas the more commonly known Perrier is often found in family style restaurants.


Finally, keep in mind that your customers aren't the only ones who need to quench their thirst. Kitchens and patios are some of the hottest places to work in the summer, so help your employees stay well hydrated by placing water coolers in convenient locations and encourage them to refill their glasses often.