Warmer temperatures and longer days outside increase the risk for dehydration, especially for those in vulnerable populations like children and the elderly. If plain water isn’t your thing, check out these tips and tricks to maintain good hydration throughout the day.
According to MedlinePlus.gov, dehydration is "a condition caused by the loss of too much fluid from the body. It happens when you are losing more fluids than you are taking in, and your body does not have enough fluids to work properly."
Mild dehydration can lead to dry skin, mouth, and eyes, as well as extreme thirst and mild constipation. Severe dehydration can cause sunken eyes, confusion, fatigue, and vomiting.
Check Your Levels
One way to check on your hydration levels is to look at the color of your urine! This many sound a little gross, but it’s pretty cool how your body sends you signals of dehydration before things get severe. If you’re well-hydrated, your urine should be almost clear like champagne. When you start to notice your urine turning a light yellow, that is a good sign to start hydrating more. If your urine turns a very dark yellow/orange color, that is a sign of severe dehydration and you should see a doctor. Do you have kids and want to ensure they stay hydrated? Teach them how to do this when they are potty-trained, and get into the habit of asking “what color?” after they pee.
- Drink more water. The most common recommendation is to drink 8 cups of water a day, 8 oz each. That’s around 2 liters. The best way to do this is to buy a water bottle, fill it up when you wake up in the morning, and drink throughout the day. Know how many ounces your bottle holds, then determine how many times you need to refill. They even make 2 liter bottles with lines for each time of day to keep you on track! Not a fan of the taste of water? You can add flavor by infusing fresh fruits, herbs, and lemon or lime. You can mix it up by choosing a flavored, carbonated water once or twice a day, but be intentional about choosing sugar-free options. You can also enjoy decaffeinated teas!
- Eat your fruits and veggies. Fruits and vegetables are made up of water, some more than others. As we incorporate more of these into the diet, we are adding to our overall water intake. So if you need a snack during a day in the sun, choose a mixture of fresh fruits, like pineapple, oranges, watermelon, and kiwi. Make your fruits even more fun with homemade popsicles or smoothies! If you’re packing lunch on the go, try carrots, bell peppers, broccoli, or celery with your favorite dip, like hummus or salsa.
- Replenish electrolytes. Dehydration is also marked by a decrease in electrolytes. These won’t come from water alone, but will come from a salty snack after time spent in the sun or after a workout. Pretzels are perfect for this! You can also use electrolyte drinks, but many have large amounts of sugar. Dilute sports drinks with water to get the electrolytes you need without the added sugar.
- Avoid dehydrating liquids. Not all liquids will hydrate your body. Some, including caffeine and alcohol, can actually dehydrate you! During the hot weather, avoid excessive intake of coffee, caffeinated tea, alcohol, and sodas. If you do enjoy 1-2 of these in a day, be intentional to include an additional serving of water to replenish your hydration!