- May 13, 2019
It’s almost summer time and that means more time spent outdoors, at BBQs, trips to parks, zoos, festivals, and long days in the sun with friends and family. Staying hydrated is important year-round, however as the weather gets warmer, staying hydrated becomes even more crucial.
Your body needs water to survive.
Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and your body uses water for many vital functions. For instance, your body uses water to maintain its temperature, remove waste and toxins through urination, regulate normal bowel movements and prevent constipation, maintain blood pressure, and prevent complications of dehydration.
If you lose more fluid than you take in, you can become dehydrated and your body will not have enough water to carry out its vital tasks. Dehydration can cause an increase in body temperature, dangerously low blood pressure, kidney damage, dizziness, weakness, confusion, and in extreme cases, coma and death.
You cannot rely on sense of thirst alone to determine your hydration status.
As we become older, we lose our ability to sense thirst. This is why elderly people are among the highest risk of becoming dehydrated. However, anyone can become dehydrated. Even if you do not feel hot or have visible perspiration, you can still become dehydrated.
The overall goal is to minimize dehydration without over-drinking.
You may have heard the general rule that everyone needs 6-8 glasses of water a day. However, how much fluid you need is based on differences in age, activity level, the weather, as well as states of pregnancy, breastfeeding, and illness. The Institute of Medicine has estimated that men need about 13 cups (3 liters) of fluid each day and women need about 9 cups (2.2 liters) of fluid each day.
Make a commitment to try at least one new way of keeping yourself hydrated this summer!
Not big on drinking water? Good news! There are many ways to stay hydrated. Below are some helpful suggestions you can try.
1) Hydrate with food
That’s right, the food you eat can be great sources of fluid–accounting for about 20 percent of your fluid intake. Fresh fruits and vegetables are among the top of the list for hydrating foods. Broth-based soups, beans, oatmeal, and cereal are also excellent choices. Luckily, many hydrating foods are in season this time of year such as melon, tomatoes, cucumber, oranges, mango, berries, and others. So next time you reach for a quick snack, make it a water-rich choice!
2) Add some jazz to your water
We all know that drinking water is good for us but sometimes it can feel like a task. If you’re not a big water drinker, try enriching it with fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs. Sliced cucumbers, mint leaves, lemon, and strawberry are just a few examples. You can also try adding a splash of 100% fruit juice such as orange, pineapple, or cranberry to add a little flavor to your water. Get creative and have fun experimenting with different combinations!
Low-calorie drink mixes such as Crystal Light or premade flavored waters can be good options but be mindful of calories and sugar content. Refer to the Nutrition Facts Panel to see how many calories and grams of sugar there are per serving. If you prefer beverages with carbonation, low-calorie sparkling water may be a good option as well.
3) Set timers and reminders
One way to help you remember to drink more fluids is to set multiple alarms or timers throughout the day to help trigger when to drink water. For example, you can set four to six alarms throughout the day to remind you to drink a glass of water. If you have a regular daily routine, it would be a smart idea to strategically plan these alarms during “down time”, a time you know you’ll have a break and an opportunity to drink some water. Before long, you will not need these timers and you’ll be automatically making these changes and forming new healthy habits!
Placing reminders in strategic places is another great way to get you drinking more water. For example, when you go to bed at night, write a note to drink a glass of water next to where you normally brush your teeth. Keep a full glass of water at your nightstand when you go to sleep. When you wake up in the morning, before grabbing your morning coffee, drink a glass of water first. You can place reminders to drink more water on your coffee maker, your refrigerator, the bathroom, or any other place you frequent throughout the day to help you remember to drink more water.
4) Be mindful of caffeine
Caffeine is a mild diuretic, (it increases urine production; i.e. fluid loss). Although coffee and tea contain caffeine, one or two cups a day will not increase your risk for becoming dehydrated. So enjoy your morning coffee or tea but be mindful of your intake. Soda and especially energy drinks are not only high in caffeine, but they are also loaded with sugar and other compounds which make them poor beverage choices. If you do enjoy soda, choose low calorie and caffeine free.
5) Make water more convenient
Make drinking water convenient. Keeping a bottle of water with you at all times will make you more likely to drink it. For example, fill a reusable water bottle and bring it everywhere you go, sipping on it throughout the day. Keep water next to your recliner, in your vehicle, at your desk, in your purse/bag, and other areas you frequent to make drinking water more convenient. For example, If you enjoy watching television or reading a book, keep a glass of water next to where you do these activities. Keep a pitcher of water on your counter at home and drink from it during the day. As mentioned earlier, you can add fruits and herbs to the pitcher so it can infuse all day and increase the flavor.