Summer is in full force, and with the temperatures high and rising, staying hydrated should be a top priority. Water is used in our body for so many processes that keep us functioning properly. Staying well hydrated helps with regulating body temperature, preventing infections, delivering nutrients, and keeping organs functioning well. Optimal hydration also plays a role in sleep, cognition, and mood.
While you may be seeing different suggestions about water and fluid intake in the health and fitness world, it might leave you scrambling trying to figure out how many glasses of water to drink and how you can fit them all into your day. A rule of thumb is 8-11 glasses of water daily, but you also want to keep in mind your thirst and signs of hydration and dehydration.
What are some easy ways to stay hydrated?
Water is the obvious answer, and you definitely need to be drinking it in this heat to stay hydrated; however, different foods can also be a great way to keep yourself hydrated during the warm summer months. Have you ever come back from a long day outside craving fresh, cold fruit or even a big salad? What about in the summer months when a cold smoothie sounds like a great alternative to a hot bowl of oatmeal? That’s because our bodies know what’s up!
Fruits like watermelon, peaches, and oranges as well as veggies like celery, lettuce, and cucumbers can be a great way to add water without technically drinking anything. These foods are packed with water in and of themselves. Watermelon, for example, is made up of approximately 92% water.
Other ways to hydrate via food can include things like smoothies and pressed juices as well as dairy products like milk and yogurt.
What can I do if I don’t like water?
There are a few tips that can help you increase your water intake:
- Opt for water that is infused or flavored. This can be through natural ingredients like lemon, mint, or berries. It can also be through flavor packets you can buy at your local grocery store.
- Some individuals may find that they tolerate water better if it is ice cold, so try leaving a bottle in the refrigerator and adding ice when necessary.
- Others might enjoy their water on the warmer side, while this may seem unbearable in the summer months, drinking water via herbal infusions may be what some people choose to do.
- Setting reminders on your phone can be a helpful way to slowly sip your way to hydration.
- Having a dedicated water bottle and taking it out and about with you may also help you get your sips in.
- Coconut water is also a great way to stay hydrated. It not only has a high percentage of water (94%) but it also is packed full of electrolytes that help your body during excessive sweating.
- If you really can’t stand the taste of water, other fluids like juice, tea, coffee, and sports drinks can also provide the hydration you need. Just keep in mind they may contain other nutrients and non-nutrients like carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, as well as caffeine.
How can I assess my hydration status?
There are some signs and symptoms that may indicate that you are dehydrated. These include dry mouth, fatigue, extreme thirst, headache, confusion, and dizziness. However, the best way to check if you’re getting enough water is to pay attention during your bathroom breaks! Not the most fun of things to discuss, but keeping an eye on the color of your urine can be the easiest and most efficient way to assess your hydration status. You want to aim for a pale yellow color.
Can I drink too much water?
In fact, there is such a thing as OVER hydration. Although it might make you feel healthier to constantly be guzzling water in an attempt to avoid dehydration, drinking too much can upset the fluid-electrolyte balance in your body. You may be drinking too much water if you are drinking even when you’re not thirsty. Other signs can also include urinating frequently throughout the night and having nearly colorless or clear urine.
The key thing to keep in mind is that for optimal physical health, you want to stay hydrated while also avoiding over-hydration. Be mindful of your water intake while also listening to your body, and keep in mind foods can be a great source of water too! It is also important to know that extra precautions should be taken in the very young and very old as well as if a person is sick or has a fever if they are breastfeeding, or engaging in strenuous physical activity. Avoiding high salt foods, excessive alcohol intake, and super high temperatures can also help you stay hydrated.
Claire El-Jor MSc, LD
Licensed Dietitian and Eating Disorders Specialist