If you think the only thing you need to do to stay hydrated is drink when you’re thirsty, think again! If you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.
Dehydration simply means your body does not have all the fluids — primarily water — that it should. One quick way to check your hydration level is to take a look at your urine.
When your fluid levels are balanced, your urine should be pale yellow and clear. Dark yellow urine, or urine that is cloudy, or has a strong odor, may mean you are dehydrated.
Why is hydration important?
Staying hydrated is critical to good health because your body is mostly water. Your lean body mass, including lean muscles, is made up of 70 to 75 percent water.
By nature, the bodies of muscular men and athletes contain more water than women, or people who are overweight.
Maintaining the proper balance between water and electrolytes in your body determines how well your body functions. This includes your critical organs and systems such as your nerves, muscles, brain and heart.
Water performs many critical functions in the body. It is a major component in blood and supports circulation. It helps the body maintain a healthy temperature.
It is an important nutrient and it acts as a solvent for other nutrients and chemicals. And it is used by the body to remove waste.
How does summer heat affect hydration?
As temperatures rise and humidity increases during the summer, it’s even more important to pay attention to staying hydrated. When you get warm, your body compensates by increasing how much you sweat, which forces water out of your body onto your skin.
It doesn’t take a big change in the fluid balance in your body to affect your health. As little as a 2 percent drop in fluids can affect how well your muscles function when you play sports.
If your fluid level drops 3-4 percent, your heart may start to race and your internal body temperature can rise, which can affect how well your heart and other organs function.
What can I drink to stay hydrated?
Water should always be your first choice to stay hydrated.