With summer around the corner and the temperatures climbing, people all across Texas are getting ready for the hot months ahead. Watering lawns and gardens keeps plants perky, but what about you? Are you getting enough water?Water is essential for good health – in fact, our bodies are 60% water! Good hydration keeps our skin, brain, heart, muscles, and joints all working properly. Getting too little water can cause dry skin, poor concentration and muscle cramps. Even mild dehydration can make you feel tired and drained of energy. So, how much is enough to prevent these unwanted side effects of dehydration?Many people follow the “8 x 8” rule (8 ounces, 8 times a day), but this old standard isn’t for everyone. The National Academy of Sciences recommends that teenage boys, ages 14 to 18, drink 11 cups of fluid each day. They advise slightly more for adult men, at 13 cups. Teen girls should drink 8 cups of fluid while adult women, 19 to 50 years old, should aim for 9 cups. If you spend time outside in hot weather you’ll need up to two more cups. While that may seem like a lot of fluid, it doesn’t all have to be plain water! Hydrating beverages like milk, juice, coffee, tea and soda are mostly water and can count toward your fluid goals. But be careful! Drinks that contain calories don’t fill you up like food does and the calories can add up fast. Here are some tips for drinking more while not adding too many calories:- Add some flavor to your water with summer berries, a few slices of your favorite citrus fruit or a sugar-free lemonade or fruit punch powdered mix- Opt for diet soda instead of regular- Sweeten iced tea with artificial sweetener- Choose 1% or fat-free milk, instead of whole or 2%- Look for 100% juice, and limit juice to about 1 cup a day- Go for low-calorie sports drinksWhen it comes to meeting your daily hydration needs, caffeinated beverages can contribute fluid as well. While concerns have been raised that caffeine has a diuretic effect, a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that caffeinated drinks don’t cause extra fluid loss or dehydration. Whether its water, juice, coffee or soda, all beverages are hydrating. So this summer raise your glass to good hydration!Amberlee Coles will graduate from the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas dietetic internship in June 2011 and completed a community nutrition rotation with Neva in May 2011.