Prairie Fare: Hydration tips for staying cool this summer

Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist
North Dakota State University Extension
Julie Garden-Robinson, North Dakota State University (NDSU) Extension food and nutrition specialist and professor of health, nutrition and exercise sciences, was recently elected President-elect of National Association.

“Wow, the prices went up in the last several days,” I exclaimed.

My husband was studying the bill at the drive-through. We like to stop in for a quick treat now and then, and we usually get the same thing. We had been at the restaurant within the last week.

“They charged us for a glass of ice water,” he said.

“Ice water costs $3?” I asked the server in disbelief.

“You had a medium,” the server responded.

“I have never paid for tap water here,” I replied. “Is this new?”

The manager walked over to the window to determine what the question was. She probably was checking on the “problem customers” in the car at the window.

“There is no charge for water,” she said. “This was rung up as a medium beverage.”

She handed us $3, and we went along our way. I would have wanted a carbonated beverage if I was paying for it.

We learned a lesson. Be sure to check your receipts. Tap water usually is free with a purchase at a restaurant.

If you think the cost of gas is high, consider this. The 2-cup portion of ice water equals one-eighth of a gallon. Paying $3 for the ice water would equal paying $24 per gallon of gas.

We need about eight cups of fluids daily from beverages and food. If you drink municipal “city” water and use a reusable water bottle, your hydration is free.

If you do not like the flavor of your tap water, consider getting a pitcher with a filter.

A 2022 study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion showed that 36% of adults used a filter when drinking tap water at home, while 14% did not drink tap water at home. The researchers found that people drank more tap water if they used a filter at home.

You can add fresh orange or lemon slices, strawberries or mint leaves to add a little flavor without calories. Flavor-infused water may encourage you to drink more fluids.

With the warm weather of summer, staying hydrated is good for our health.

Water has many purposes. Staying hydrated helps our bodies maintain a normal temperature, it cushions joints and helps our body rid itself of waste. Our bodies are made up of about 60% water.

When the temperatures soar, as they did in June, staying hydrated becomes especially important. If you are working or playing outdoors, you lose more fluid through perspiration.

If you are gardening, biking, walking, running or doing other physical activity, be sure to hydrate yourself regularly.

When I saw my plants wilting and the birds “panting” in my backyard the other day, it was a good reminder. Your plants, pets and livestock also need water.

We all have a “hydration gauge” available when we visit a bathroom. Your urine should be straw-colored if you are fully hydrated. However, certain medications and foods may affect the color of urine.

Age, sex, breastfeeding and/or pregnancy status affect the amount of fluids we need. Remember that both food and drinks provide water to maintain health.

Stay hydrated with these tips.

Use a refillable water bottle, wash it daily and refill it throughout the day at work or home.

Choose water instead of sweetened, caloric drinks to quench your thirst. Water hydrates best.

Make your beverages count toward your overall nutrition. Along with water, enjoy milk and 100% fruit or vegetable juice as your beverages. Try making home-made frozen juice pops.

If you find beer refreshing, have a bottle of water as your follow-up beverage. Alcohol-containing beverages actually are somewhat dehydrating.

Moderate your coffee intake to about three to five cups daily. Caffeinated beverages such as coffee and cola are less hydrating than plain water.

Drink water before, during and after physical activity. In most cases, sports drinks are not necessary except for elite athletes. Your next meal will replace any electrolytes (minerals) you have lost during exercise.

Enjoy more fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are more than 90% water by weight.

A fruit-filled smoothie provides hydration and a variety of nutrients.

Make your own treats at home. This recipe has been popular with children’s programs, and adults enjoy these too. Not only are these smoothie bowls refreshing, but they also provide a variety of nutrients. Have a glass of ice water on the side to double up on hydration.

Smoothie Bowls

  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • 1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen fruit
  • 2 tablespoons toppings (fresh fruit, granola, coconut, chia seeds, etc.)

Add spinach, yogurt and fruit to a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Pour smoothie in a bowl and top with desired toppings.

Makes two servings. Each serving has 110 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 7 grams of protein, 19 grams of carbohydrate, 5 grams of fiber and 40 milligrams of sodium.

Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension food and nutrition specialist and professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences. Follow her on Twitter @jgardenrobinson.