How Important Is Hydration in the Summer?
The winter months just seem to drag on and on. It can be hard to remember what blue skies and warm temperatures feel like, but summer is finally here — and with it, the sun. Whether you want to go outside for a family picnic, an afternoon hike or a swim in the pool, it’s essential to make sure you’re staying hydrated. In fact, our bodies are made up of 60 percent water, making it a necessary part of our natural health and development. But just how important is hydration in the summer?
Consider that water removes waste from our bodies, lubricates joints, regulates body temperature and so much more. Staying hydrated is also a helpful natural remedy for fighting oncoming colds. As the temperatures increase and you spend more time outdoors, you’re at an increased risk of becoming dehydrated. Let’s learn how to stop that risk in its tracks so that you can keep going in yours.
How Important Is Hydration?
Dehydration, which is when your body has suffered a severe loss in water, can come with serious side effects.
Common symptoms of dehydration include:
- Muscle cramps
- Dry or sticky mouth
- Very dry skin
- Lack of energy
- Rapid heartbeat
If you’ve asked yourself, “How important is hydration?” you should know that these issues are just some of the immediate consequences of dehydration. A severe lack of water can come with more long-term consequences, including adverse effects on your brain.
Much like our bodies, our brains are made up of mostly water, with dehydration affecting functions such as problem-solving, attention to detail, coordination and reaction time. Just a couple of hours of physical activity in the heat without drinking water can have a profound effect.
But being hydrated doesn’t mean you aren’t consuming enough water. In fact, the average American drinks eight servings of hydrating beverages of water each day. But still, 75 percent of those individuals are chronically dehydrated because of caffeinated drinks like coffee and soda, which can offset water intake.
If you plan to enjoy the warm weather this summer, be safe and keep your body well-hydrated. Listen to your body’s signs that you need more water, including dry mouth, loss of appetite, extra fatigue, lack of urination and cramping muscles.
How to Stay Hydrated
The goal of staying hydrated is to replace what’s lost. If you have a diet low in sodium and stay away from caffeine, you can likely get away with the recommended amount of daily water intake, which is 3.7 liters for men and 2.7 liters for women. But this number can vary based on your body weight, diet, physical activity level and climate.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can stay hydrated and healthy, even in warm summer temperatures. Here are some of the most important ones.
Don’t Wait to Get Thirsty
If you wait until you feel thirsty, chances are, you’re already dehydrated. You should remind yourself to drink water on a consistent schedule, especially when you’re spending time outdoors. It can be helpful to keep a bottle with you with level markers that show how much you’ve consumed. That way, you can track your intake and make sure you’ve had enough.
Drink Before You Eat
It can be very easy to confuse dehydration with hunger, because the symptoms of both — like headaches, lack of energy and difficulty concentrating — often feel the same. So next time you get that craving for a mid-afternoon snack, switch it out for a tall glass of water. Sometimes, you’ll find that your “hunger” goes away, which means you can easily cut calories.
Track Your Intake
Most people don’t know how much they should drink and whether they’re getting enough, so first, determine how much water you should be drinking. There are plenty of online calculators where you can enter your information and get a customized hydration plan. If it’s recommended that you drink 64 ounces of water each day, get a 16-ounce bottle and be sure to drink four each day.
Eat the Right Foods
While drinking water is vital for staying hydrated, it will only make up about 80 percent of your water intake. The remaining 20 percent comes from the foods you eat, meaning it’s crucial to follow a healthy and nutritious diet. Look for foods that will maximize water intake, like cucumbers, which are 97 percent water, or cauliflower and watermelon, both 92 percent water.
Staying Hydrated in the Summer
Keep in mind that heat exhaustion and dehydration can come on quickly, especially during the summer months when the temperatures are high. If you plan to get physical but don’t drink plenty of water, you can create a dangerous situation that can lead to serious, long-term consequences.
Not only does staying hydrated keep your body running properly, but it can also have added benefits like keeping the symptoms of low blood pressure at bay and aiding in healthy digestion.
Now that you have an answer to the question, “How important is hydration?” you can take steps toward staying healthy. If you feel dizzy, tired or extremely thirsty, get in the shade and start sipping some water. If your symptoms worsen or don’t improve, see your doctor right away.