Water is one of the basic needs required for human life. About 70 percent of the human body is made up of water and your vital organs couldn’t function without it. Consequently, it’s important to continually replenish your body with water, especially during the warm summer months.
However, sometimes that is easier said than done. When the weather heats up during the summer, you can become dehydrated more quickly, even if you feel like you’re drinking enough water. With a little planning on how to stay hydrated, you can enjoy a safe and healthy summer full of all your favorite outdoor activities.
The importance of hydration
When your body loses more water than it takes in – the state of being dehydrated – you don’t have the liquid required to perform normal functions. If you feel tired, irritable, or dizzy after being outdoors or in a hot room, dehydration could be the culprit. Other symptoms include:
- Extreme thirst.
- Infrequent urination.
- Low blood pressure.
- Urine that is dark in color.
However, avoiding these symptoms isn’t the only reason staying properly hydrated is important. Lack of adequate hydration over an extended period can lead to other more serious health issues, according to the Mayo Clinic. While minor dehydration can simply be treated by drinking water, severe cases may require intravenous treatment by emergency personnel.
However, it’s also possible to get too much water, especially if you have certain medical conditions or are on a medication that causes your body to retain fluids. Because of this, it’s important to talk to your doctor to determine the right amount that you should be drinking each day.
Tips for staying hydrated
Make sure you drink enough: Recommendations vary depending on weight, age, and activity level but an easy one to remember is 8x8, or 8 glasses of 8 ounces of water each day. You can also divide your weight in pounds by 2 and drink that number in ounces. For example, a 130-pound female would need 65 ounces (135/2) of water per day. Many experts recommend drinking to thirst—if you are thirsty, drink!
Invest in a reusable water bottle.Skip throwaway plastic water bottles that harm the environment—20% end up in landfills—and buy a refillable water bottle to help you track your water intake each day. If you’re mindful of keeping the bottle nearby, you’ll be much more likely to sip throughout the day.
Infuse with flavor.Whether you prefer limes, lemons, oranges, berries, or cucumbers, infusing your water with fresh fruit can make for a refreshing and spa-like beverage, without any added artificial sweeteners or preservatives.
Drink before you eat.We all can relate to that late-afternoon “must have a snack” hungry feeling. Before reaching for the nearest source of calories, drink some water! Sometimes our brains confuse thirst with hunger, so next time the feeling strikes, hydrate before eating and your hunger “pains” just might disappear.
Stick with H2Yes, juices, milk, and herbal teas can all help hydrate your body—even caffeinated drinks (in moderation) can provide you with much-needed water. However, water is what your body is really craving, so you might as well go straight to the source. Sticking with H2O will help you skip the unnecessary sugars, additives, and caffeine found in other drinks.
Make a water schedule.If it feels impossible to guzzle down 64 ounces in a single day, you may want to come up with a hydrating schedule. As soon as you wake up, make it a point to drink 10 ounces of water—after a night of fasting, your body will appreciate a morning quencher. Drinking a predetermined number of ounces throughout the day (such as at meals, and before, during, and after a workout) can also keep you on track.
Prehydrate with soaked chia seeds.An ancient superfood that sustained the Aztec and Mayan peoples for generations, chia seeds are hydrating nutrient powerhouses. These tiny seeds are hydrophilic, meaning they absorb water (up to 12 times their weight!). When you consume water-logged chia seeds before exercise or a day in the sun, they will slowly release that water as your body digests them, keeping your system hydrated. Plus, they are a great source of Omega-3s and many other nutrients. Think of them as mini time-released water bottles!
Go for the coconut.Water that is. Coconut water is a mineral-rich liquid from the inside of young, green coconuts. Packed with potassium, magnesium, sodium, and calcium, coconut water can replenish lost fluids and electrolytes from exercise and hot summer temperatures. Try freezing coconut water ice cubes or pops for a refreshing, hydrating summer treat.
Take your probiotics.It’s true—good gut health can keep you hydrated. Not only do beneficial bacteria help you absorb nutrients and electrolytes from food and drinks (which makes for more efficient hydration), but a strong microbiome can keep away any harmful microbes that can cause temporary intestinal issues, leading to dehydration. Probiotics hydrate your skin too!
The key to staying hydrated is to drink plenty of water. But sometimes that is easier said than done. When you’re thirsty, your body is already dehydrated. So, it’s important to drink water regularly even if you don’t feel particularly thirsty. You can also make a large pitcher of sugar-free iced tea to keep in your fridge for a refreshing – and hydrating – drink. Or try a refreshing sugar-free popsicle to get additional liquids.
Staying hydrated isn’t just about drinking a lot of water. There are several other precautions you can take to avoid dehydration during the summer. Stay inside when possible, especially during the hottest part of the day, and try to stay in the shade while spending time outside.
Water is truly the elixir of life. As you experience all the wonderful milestones of summer, remember to drink plenty of water and eat a diet rich in hydrating whole fruits and vegetables to keep you going strong all summer long. Your body (and mind) will thank you!
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