It's important to drink enough water in the summer. We all know that. But do we all do it? All the time?
Judging by the number of people who get dehydrated, so many to the point of heatstroke and hospitalization ... the answer has to be no.
Find that hard to believe? Medicaldaily.com reported in 2013 that most citizens are not drinking enough water. In fact, as high as 75 percent of people in the United States are somewhat dehydrated on a regular basis.
Some of this will be due to the fact that lots of people don't like water much. But some of this has to be chalked up to being in the dark about the indirect way your body tells you it's time for some fluids.
In the first place, you don't even feel thirsty till you're already somewhat dehydrated. And your body doesn't tell you in a forthright way that caffeine and alcohol do NOT fill the bill. All too often, the first signals you get are the ones indicating that you are in trouble.
Don't let dehydration and the trouble that can come with it mess up your summer enjoyment — and your health.
Here are a few suggestions that may help you to stay hydrated despite the heat:
1) Pay attention to the subtle signs your body sends.
If you start to feel fatigued, if you've lost your appetite, if you are flushed and light-headed, it may be time to pour a tall glass of water. And drink it. Now.
2) Heed your body as its messages get more direct.
Got a dry cough? Urine looking darker than usual? You are getting more dehydrated. Have a cup of something wet -- like water. Don't put it off.
3) Starting to feel thirsty?
Don't be stubborn and don't procrastinate because you think water is boring. Drink some water. Then drink some more.
4) Tired of plain old water?
Feel like you can't look another glass full in the face? Toss in some fruit like lemon, lime or berries. A wee splash of fruit juice wouldn't hurt and might make your glass of water more appealing. Or cut up a cucumber and add that to your water.
5) Avoid beverages with caffeine in them.
Your favorite cola may seem like the ideal summer refreshment. Unfortunately, your body doesn't agree. The more of these you drink, the more dehydrated you will become, and the more proper hydration you'll need.
6) If you're doing something athletic, a sports drink might be helpful.
If you're involved in intense physical activity, for an hour or more, a sports drink can provide the fluid you need, plus electrolytes like potassium and sodium which has been depleted due to perspiration.
7) Fruit drinks are always healthy, right?
Think again. Fruit drinks as opposed to juice will guarantee that you're downing too much carbohydrate, and not enough sodium. Some 100 percent fruit juice is fine, but that shouldn't be the only thing you drink. If you feel lost without your juice, cut it by half with water.
8) Sparkling water is better than soda.
A wee splash of fruit juice with your sparkling water can make that glass look more like a treat and less like a duty.
9) Alcohol is a diuretic.
Not only will it not hydrate you it will drag you in the other (unhealthy) direction. Mixed drinks using colas or fruit drinks with all their sugar content are just compounding the problem.
10) Eat your way toward hydration.
Fruits and vegetables with high water content like watermelon and lettuce can boost your fluid consumption by 35 percent.
So lift a glass of water with a festive slice of lemon (and a little umbrella perhaps) as you sit back and enjoy the summer pleasures of fruit and vegetables in season. What could be more rewarding than all that?
75% of Americans May Suffer From Chronic Dehydration, According to Doctors. Medicaldaily.com. Retrieved June 29, 2015.
Avoiding Dehydration, Proper Hydration. Clevelandclinic.org. Retrieved June 29, 2015.
Healthfully Hydrate When it’s Hot. Everydayhealth.com. Retrieved June 29, 2015.
Reviewed June 30, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN