Nutrition Education provided by Selina Lai, M.S., R.D.
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Summer Season Hydration
By Selina Lai, M.S., R.D.
Southern California is the place for fun in the sun. During summer here, kids of all ages are spending hours at summer camps, the beach, or the local sports field enjoying the outdoors. With temperatures ranging from the 70's at the beaches into the 90's inland, keeping cool and staying well-hydrated takes some effort for kids more interested in the fun of the moment.
Children have a higher risk of dehydration than adults for several reasons:
- Children create more body heat than adults.
- Children have a higher sweat rate than adults.
- Children are more apt to forget to drink fluids frequently.
The chart below lists the signs and symptoms of dehydration. Help your child get familiar with these signs so that he can recognize if he is getting dehydrated.
Physical Symptoms of Dehydration
If your child tires easily in a game or practice, appears irritable and then his performance suddenly declines, he may be dehydrated. Additional signs of dehydration are:
- Dry lips and tongue
- Sunken eyes
- Bright-colored or dark urine, or urine with a strong odor
- Infrequent urination
- Apathy or lack of energy
Reference: Schmitt, Paula, Youth Sports Nutrition Tips, Pediatrics for Parents; 2007, Vol. 23 Issue 11, p. 22.
How Much to Drink
The recommended volume of fluid to drink is 8 cups of water a day (which equals 8 8-oz. glasses). This water comes from fluids we drink and foods we eat. Consider the increased amounts of fresh fruits, vegetables, and frozen dessert (ice cream, popsicles, smoothies) that are consumed in warm weather. These choices can contribute significantly to total fluid intake.
Additional fluids are needed when extensive physical training is undertaken. Recommendations include:
- Consume approximately 2 cups of fluid in the 2 hours before starting training. This can be in the form of fruits, milk, diluted juices, sports drinks, or other "low sugar" beverage. Generally, carbonated beverages are not recommended before training or games because of the potential for upset stomach.
- During training consume ¾ cup of water or sports beverage every 15-20 minutes.
- If the exercise duration is longer than 1 hour, then a sports drink containing carbohydrate and sodium should be used. Diluted juices and homemade sports beverages are also an option (see recipe below).
What to Drink
Several studies have shown that kids drink larger volumes of a sweetened beverage (sports drink, diluted juice, or flavored water) than straight water. This is an important consideration to ensure adequate hydration in hot weather. It may also be why there have been several new slightly sweetened water beverage products for kids. These convenient pouch drinks meet a need for a hydration beverage that has a lower sugar content than juices. A more environmentally
friendly choice is mixing your favorite juice and water in a reusable water bottle.
Kids should be drinking milk everyday as part of their daily fluid intake, 2 to 3 cups per day, to provide an important dietary calcium source. Soymilk and nutmilks are fortified with calcium and can be excellent substitutes to cow's milk and also provide variety in a child's diet.
Carbonated beverages are also thirst-quenching and many brands have started to reduce their can sizes so less sugar and calories are provided in a serving. Some research has linked the consumption of cola beverages with lower bone density in women. Sodas also displace milk intake, reducing dietary calcium, a key nutrient for bone health. If carbonated beverages are consumed regularly, consider sugar-free and caffeine-free options. Also, keep in mind that
"energy" drinks, such as Red Bull™, are not recommended for children.
Recipe for 20-oz. Sports Bottle's Worth of Sports Drink
- 3 tablespoons table sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon table salt
- Flavoring to taste - orange juice, lemon juice, unsweetened Kool-Aid or other drink mix, etc. Suggest trying 2-3 tablespoons of juice or 1/3 packet of unsweetened Kool-Aid.
- Fill halfway with water, mix well.
- Top off with water.
- Keep refrigerated.
©Selina Lai, M.S., R.D., Summer Season Hydration, 2010. Please contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org for reprint permission.
About the Author:
Selina Lai has been a Registered Dietitian for 20 years. She studied Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of British Columbia and California State University, Long Beach. She has worked as a nutrition educator with a wide range of clients. Most recently she has developed nutrition and cooking classes for preschool and elementary school children. Her recently published book "Good Eats for Soccer - Nutrition Choices for Competitive Youth Soccer"
(www.goodeatsforsoccer.com) focuses on diet modifications for the moderate to high intensity physical demands of youth soccer players during tournaments. She is an "intermediate" level referee. She was recently honored with the prestigious "Golden Oak Service Award" by the California PTA for her service to children in her community. She resides in Rancho Palos Verdes, California
with her husband and two boys, one of which plays in the Palos Verdes Soccer Club..