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How to Stay Hydrated Over the Summer

Staying hydrated during the warm summer months is an important part of enjoying the season. Whether your plans include more walks or bicycle rides, soaking up the sun, or taking that long-awaited vacation, make sure you drink enough water to stay hydrated. This is necessary as it will keep your body — and mind — functioning at its best. So, how do you know if you’re drinking enough water? Let’s tap into the facts and explore some of the best tips to keep you hydrated all summer long.  iStock-528895400

Why our bodies need water

Water is critical to overall health. Every cell, tissue and organ in the human body relies on it to function properly. According to the Mayo Clinic, water makes up about 50 to 70 percent of body weight. So, how can losing just a fraction of water negatively affect your body and mind? It’s all about dehydration; when your body doesn’t have enough water to perform normal functions. Water is critical to your health, because it:

  • Regulates body temperature
  • Flushes waste from the body
  • Supports a healthy immune system
  • Lubricates and cushions joints
  • Promotes healthy digestion
  • Improves memory, alertness, mood, and sleep quality

How much water should you drink?

For the average healthy adult, the general recommendation for water intake is eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day — that's 64 ounces a day. Everyone’s needs vary, however, depending on their activity level and even the climate in which they live. So, how much water do you actually need to drink in order to stay hydrated? Here are some general guidelines, according to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine:

  • For men, about 13 cups of total beverages, including water (100 ounces)
  • For women, about 9 cups of total beverages, including water (74 ounces)

Other water-based beverages such as tea, milk and coffee contribute to this total beverages recommendation. Plain water is best and calorie-free so aim for most of you 9 to 13 cups to be water. 

Here are some factors that may increase your requirements to consider:

  • Activity level. The general rule is if you break a sweat, be sure to replace what you lost. The key is to drink water before, during, and after your workout.
  • Climate. If you live in a hot and humid climate, you’re most likely to sweat more, which will cause you to dehydrate more quickly than in cooler places. And were you aware that being in a higher altitude — like in the mountains — can cause you to dehydrate? That goes for flying on an airplane, too. Be sure to keep plenty of water on hand wherever you may be.
  • Overall health. While it is important to stay hydrated every day, it becomes even more critical when you’re sick. Fevers, vomiting, and diarrhea can cause severe dehydration — as do bladder infections and urinary tract infections (UTIs). Increasing your fluid intake is an important part of a successful recovery.

Tips for optimum hydration

Now you know how much water you need to drink for optimum hydration. But how do you hit the mark without falling short? Here are some quick tips to ensure you’re getting your ounces in:

  • Drink about 8 ounces of water upon waking and before bedtime. (Did you know your body loses water while you sleep?)
  • Throughout the day, drink water to maintain a healthy balance. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to start guzzling down your ounces. Were you aware that by the time you start to feel thirsty, you could have lost two or three cups of your total body water composition? Wow!
  • Coffee and tea provide a significant amount of hydration. Opt for sugar-free and skip the cream.
  • Infuse water with slices of fruit, vegetables, or herbs for a refreshing and tasty boost.
  • Use a favorite water bottle. This is a fun way to show off your personality and enjoy every sip.
  • Don’t substitute alcohol for water. It is a diuretic that will cause you to become dehydrated. (And, no, the ice doesn’t count!)

Fun fact: Approximately 20 percent of your fluid intake comes from food — with the remaining 80 percent from beverages. This is great news for those who love their fruits and veggies! Check out these foods that are delicious as well as hydrating:

  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon
  • Strawberries
  • Grapefruit
  • Peppers
  • Cauliflower
  • Spinach
  • Radishes
  • Broccoli

What are the signs of dehydration?

Even with the best intentions and effort, dehydration can occur — especially while you’re having fun in the summer sun. Here are some important signs to look for:

  • Thirst
  • Flushed skin
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Increased body temperature
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Faster breathing and pulse rate
  • Dry mouth
  • Irritability
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dark urine

What to do if you’re experiencing dehydration

If you or someone you’re with is experiencing signs of dehydration, the first thing to reach for is — you guessed it — a glass (or two) of water. Yes, water is the best when it comes to hydration. If your body is depleted of nutrients and electrolytes, however, you may want to try these other options that will have you replenished and hydrated in no time:

  • Electrolyte-infused water
  • Pedialyte
  • Gatorade
  • Coconut water
  • Watermelon — as its name implies, it contains 92 percent water!

Tips for staying cool

When it comes to proper hydration, regulating a healthy body temperature goes hand in hand with drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Here are some great tips to help you stay cool — and look cool — this summer:

  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat
  • Opt for light-colored clothing
  • Wear loose-fitting lightweight clothes in a breathable fabric
  • Mist yourself with a spray bottle when you feel overheated

Johnson Memorial Health is a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network — a select group of carefully vetted, independent healthcare organizations with special access to Mayo Clinic knowledge, resources and expertise. 

Topics: Emergency, Nutrition, Wellness, Safety