During the hot summer months, you really have to be careful about making sure you drink enough water throughout the day. Water is a critical element for our bodies, and staying well-hydrated is a must. Up to 75% of the body’s weight is made up of water, and without it, the body can’t function properly.
Dehydration occurs when the amount of water that leaves the body is greater than the amount being taken in. Water keeps the body from overheating, and the main way the body discards heat is through sweat. A lot of sweating reduces the body’s water level, which is why most people need more water in the summer. Lack of sufficient water in the body is especially dangerous for older people and young children.
How to Avoid Dehydration
Before outdoor activities take place, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends you drink at least 16-20 ounces of fluid (preferably water) one to two hours ahead of time. After that, the guidelines is to drink 6-12 ounces for every 10-15 minutes you are outside. And then when you have finished the activity, in order to replace the water you have lost, drink at least another 16 to 24 ounces.
The best way to beat dehydration is to drink water before you actually feel thirsty. If you wait and already feel very thirsty, you’re likely dehydrated. Also, your urine can be a good indicator of proper hydration. Urine should be pale or straw-colored… perhaps practically clear. If it’s a dark yellow color, start drinking!
Signs of dehydration include:
- Flushed skin
- Heat intolerance
- Loss of appetite
- Dry cough
Water is Best
Many people find it hard to drink so much water, but it can help to add some variety to how you drink it. For example, sometimes drink from a cup, and sometimes drink water from a straw. Or try to keep an extra pitcher of water in the refrigerator, and fill it with fresh lemons and limes. You can also infuse your water with cucumbers, strawberries, melons and mint. The added fruit flavor is gentle and very refreshing.
With other beverages, some are better than others at preventing dehydration. Some sports drink replace not only fluid, but also electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium. Dehydrated children can drink “baby” versions of sports drinks, like Pedialyte. However, limit fruit juice, which has a lot of carbohydrates. And alcohol, coffee, tea and soda tend to pull water from the body and promote dehydration.
- You’ll need more water than normal if you’re sick and experiencing high fever, diarrhea and vomiting.
- Schedule outdoor activities in the summer for the cooler parts of the day.
- Wear lightweight, cool clothing. Shorts and short-sleeves or sleeveless shirts are great, but remember to apply sunscreen adequately and often.
- Eat plenty of fruits and veggies, which contain a lot of water.