Staying hydrated is essential to maintain a healthy, functioning body. Water makes up 60% of our body and plays an important role in digesting food, transporting oxygen and nutrients, and eliminating waste. Unfortunately, many people do not have an adequate daily water intake, a problem which increases during the hot summer weather.
Dehydration can become a huge problem during the summer. When your body loses 2% of its total water volume, you begin to feel fatigued, light-headed and nauseous. Severe dehydration may require hospitalization, so it is imperative you make sure you’re meeting the recommended daily quota of water for body type and activity level. Here are some helpful tips to help you make sure you stay hydrated through the summer.
Carry a Refillable Water Bottle
Healthcare professionals suggest we consume an average of 10 -12 glasses of water daily. However, when the weather warms up, you need to be continually replenishing your lost fluids. The best way to stay hydrated this summer is to carry a refillable water bottle so you can sip water throughout the day.
Sipping water is a more effective way of managing your hydration, as consuming large volumes of water at one time can create the illusion you are getting enough water, even though your body often does not have time to absorb the water before it is voided. Carrying a water bottle with you can act as a visual reminder to drink, even though you may not feel thirsty.
Water bottles come in a range of sizes and materials, but it is generally agreed that bottles constructed from sustainable materials, such as aluminum or glass, are eco-friendlier and better for you than standard plastic.
It is also a good idea to get a water filter for your home. Tap water often contains chemical additives and pathogens that can harm your body. Filters remove unwanted additives making your water healthier and more hydrating, and you are more likely to drink it!
Eat Your Greens
Drinking isn’t the only way you can increase your fluid intake this summer, as that approximately 20% of your daily fluid intake comes from the foods you eat. Many vegetables contain over 90% water in addition to important vitamins and minerals essential for rehydration. So, when the weather starts to heat up, load up your plate with some of these tasty vegetables.
- Iceberg Lettuce
- Green Peppers
Fill Up on Fruit
Fruit is also a great way to refuel and rehydrate your body on a hot summer’s day. Just like vegetables, many fruits have a water content of between 80 – 95%, which helps your body absorb the numerous water-soluble vitamins found in fruit.
Snack on fruit throughout the day, or whip up one of these fantastic smoothies for an added hydration boost. Some fruits with the highest water content are:
Protect Your Skin
Your body’s largest organ, the skin, plays an essential role in regulating your body’s temperature. Heat is lost and conserved through the dense network of blood vessels close to the skin, the raising and lowering of the hairs on our body, and through sweating, which contributes to water loss. However, water can also be lost through the skin through diffusion and evaporation.
Applying a barrier cream can help to trap moisture inside the skin by leaving a thin water-resistant coating on the top layer of your skin, while still allowing for heat energy to be released. Use a non-comedogenic product to avoid any unwanted breakouts. And for an added benefit, choose a moisturizing cream that also has an SPF factor to prevent overexposure to UV and sun damage.
Summer is the perfect time to get out and enjoy the outdoors, but spending too much time in the sun without the proper precautions can cause dehydration. When possible, stay indoors during the hottest part of the day, and avoid heavy activity to reduce the amount of moisture lost through sweating.
If you must be outdoors between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., make sure you wear protective clothing, sunscreen, a hat, and minimize your activity. In addition to the recommended daily water intake, people working outdoors or performing other strenuous activities, need additional water to replenish water lost through sweating.
Don’t Avoid Caffeinated Beverages
Contrary to popular belief, caffeine does not cause dehydration. Excessive consumption may have a mild diuretic effect, which increases the need for urination, but ultimately, your morning cup of black coffee is 98% water, which contributes to your overall daily water consumption.
Be aware that although coffee won’t cause dehydration, there are other unwanted side effects from drinking too much coffee. Headaches, increased heart rate and insomnia are all related to increased caffeine consumption, so limit yourself to two cups of caffeinated beverages per day.
Summer is the time to kick back and relax with a delicious cocktail or two. However, large amounts of alcohol can cause dehydration. Alcohol is known to decrease the amount of anti-diuretic hormone which helps the body to regulate hydration levels and reabsorb water. This regulation causes you to urinate more frequently, which can cause dehydration if you do not replace the fluids that you lose.
To stay hydrated while enjoying a drink, alternate your alcoholic beverages with water or drinks high in electrolytes, such as sports drinks. Try and avoid drinking to excess, as this can sometimes cause vomiting, which also causes the body to lose fluids.
Drink Electrolyte Drinks
One side effect of dehydration is an electrolyte imbalance. Electrolytes are chemically charged molecules that regulate the body’s muscles and nerves, blood pressure and blood pH. An electrolyte imbalance can cause muscle tremors, irregular heart rate, changes in blood pressure and, in some severe cases, seizures and nerve disorders.
To replenish lost electrolytes due to sweating, you can drink electrolyte drinks such as sports drinks, or for a low sodium option, try coconut water.
Make Breakfast a Priority
Replenishing your fluids after sleep is just as important as maintaining fluid levels throughout the day. Always begin your day with a glass of water. Whole grains and seeds, such as oatmeal, chia and flaxseed, absorb water making them excellent sources of hydration and are a great way to start your day. Try one of these delicious chia seed recipes for your next breakfast.
Staying hydrated during the summer heat is important for maintaining a healthy body. Whether you enjoy drinking water or not, it is essential for all body functions. Follow these easy tips to keep your body healthy, hydrated and enjoying the sunshine all summer long.
Written by Phil McNamara