“Alexa, play Nelly’s “Hot in Herre”—are we still playing that in 2022…or did I just show my age?
Summer is officially on the horizon. Time for sticky ice cream coated fingers, sandy toes, much needed vacations, and bonfires illuminating humid nights. You know what else the summer season is infamous for? DEHYDRATION. According to the most recent research, 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. Yeah, we’re not doing so hot. See what I did there?
Dehydration results from not adequately replenishing the fluids that are lost naturally through sweating, urination, and breathing. Dehydration can rear its unattractive head as parched lips, confusion, headaches, fatigue, dizziness, muscle cramps, and decreased urine output. Whew! The thirst is real! Speaking of thirst, many individuals would assume they are becoming dehydrated once they feel thirsty. Unfortunately, if you feel thirsty…you are already dehydrated.
The human body is approximately 70% water. This amount can vary depending on individual characteristics. Proper hydration and fluid balance is associated with better focus (ahem ahem to those drifting to sleep during Zoom meetings), increased energy, improved weight management, reduced joint pain, decreased risk of developing kidney stones, and improved temperature regulation. For reference, the general guidelines for water intake are 3.7 liters (15.5 cups) for adult men and 2.7 liters (11.5 cups) for adult women.
Okay, okay…I know what you’re thinking. But what if I don’t really like drinking water? You want fruity drinks with little umbrellas floating on top, Southern iced tea, creamy milkshakes in frosted glasses, and lemonade that makes your lips pucker? What if I told you that it’s all about balance? Think of staying hydrated as taking your daily vitamins—wait…you are doing that right? I digress, each small healthy habit is an investment in the quality of your overall well-being. Still not buying it?
No worries! I have five easy tips and tricks for improving your hydration and water intake during the summer months.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables that are rich in water
That’s right! You can actually eat your way to your personal daily fluid needs. Additionally, eating fruits and vegetables will increase your intake of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Water Content (%)
Lettuce & Cabbage
Melon (Watermelon, Cantaloupe, Honey Dew)
- Try infused spa water
Enhancing your water with berries, citrus, cucumber, mint, or rosemary can vary the flavor and in turn improve your desire to drink more water. Invest in an infuser pitcher or individual reusable water container. Or you can freeze the desired ingredients into an ice cube tray. Ooh and then serve in a wine glass or champagne flute. Oh, so you fancy huh?
- There’s An App for That
Can’t remember to hydrate until most of the day is over? Use your smartphone to download an app specifically for water reminders. You’ll be prompted to set a daily goal…start modestly, and given a notification regularly throughout the day.
- Seeing is Believing
Purchase or DIY a water bottle with suggested drinking times and encouraging sayings associated with each marker. They’re all the rage on TikTok. Transparent bottles are best so that you can visualize your progress.
- Pair It Up
For every glass of juice, soda, or coffee you drink…make sure to follow it up with at least 8 ounces (1 cup) of water. This will ensure that you are truly hydrating and quenching your thirst. You can also dilute your juice serving, by splashing a little into your water serving. This is a great tactic if you are trying to get used to the neutral taste of water.
*Special Note: During the summer months, young children, older adults, those who are overweight or are dealing with an illness have an increased risk for heat stroke. A heat stroke occurs when the body fails to control its temperature and reaches above 106 degrees Fahrenheit in less than 15 minutes. If not treated immediately, this can cause long-term complications or death. Symptoms of a heat stroke include confusion, unclear speech, dry skin (because the body is unable to cool off with sweat), or heavy sweating. If you or someone around you is possibly experiencing a heat stroke, call 911 immediately and follow these steps until help arrives.
- Move out of the sun into the shade, preferably a space with lots of air flow
- Remove any outer clothing
- Apply cool and wet cloth to the body and clothing to drop the temperature
- Use ice bath if available
That’s all folks! With all of this new information I hope that you feel empowered to stay hydrated this summer and beyond. Make small changes to maintain adequate fluid balance and avoid the unpleasant symptoms of dehydration. You know what they say…you never miss the water until the well runs dry.