Safe summer hydration: 10 tips to stay hydrated

Summer is finally here!  The sun is out, the grass is green and you are likely to participate in many outdoor activities.  Along with all this summer fun comes heat and humidity.  So, as the mercury rises, you need to pay close attention to your hydration.

Your body is 60 percent water by weight and proper hydration is essential for your overall health.  Approximately 80 percent of our water intake comes from drinking water and other beverages, and the other 20 percent comes from food.  The water you consume optimizes blood pressure, regulates body temperature, lubricates joints and aids in digestion.  As your body works hard to keep you cool, you lose fluid through sweating and evaporation.

How do you increase your water intake without feeling waterlogged or like you have to go to the bathroom all the time?  Here are 10 tips to stay hydrated this summer:

  1. Make sure you drink enough.  Fluid recommendations are based upon body weight but a good rule of thumb is to aim for eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.
  2. Purchase reusable water bottles.  This is safer for you and the environment but also makes you mindful to drink if you carry it with you throughout the day.
  3. Infuse with flavorInfusing your water with fruit slices, lemon or lime can make for a refreshing beverage without added sweeteners.
  4. Drink before you eat. Sometimes our brains confuse thirst for hunger, so next time the feeling strikes, hydrate before eating and your hunger pains may disappear.
  5. Fill up on electrolytes. A sports drink can replace minerals you lose while sweating.  Avoid sugary ones that can lead to dehydration.  Use caution with very cold beverages as these can lead to stomach cramps.
  6. Limit alcohol and caffeine intake.  Heat acts as a diuretic, meaning it causes the body to lose more fluid through urine, resulting in dehydration.  If alcohol is in the mix for your summer outing, alternate every drink with a water.
  7. Increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables. Most fruits and veggies are 85-95 percent of water. So eat up!
  8. Exercise in the early morning hours or late evening. Pound the pavement when the sun is not out in full force and temperatures are cooler.  If you do exercise in the heat for more than one hour, supplement water with a sports drink that contains 6 to 8 percent carbohydrates.  This prevents hyponatremia, which dilutes your blood and could also lead to serious impairment or death.
  9. Know the warning signs of dehydration. Early signs include increased thirst, flushed skin, fatigue and concentrated urine.  Later signs of more severe dehydration can be dizziness, weakness and labored breathing with exertion.  If you notice these signs it is time to make hydrating a priority.
  10. Snack on dried fruits and nuts. For long hikes, when you will need food, dried fruit and nut mixtures contain high amounts of potassium, sodium, protein, carbohydrates and calories. However, continue to drink plenty of water.

Water is truly the elixir of life.  As you experience all the wonderful milestones of summer, remember to drink plenty of water and eat a diet rich in hydrating whole fruits and vegetables to keep you going strong all season long.

Authors

Ann Caldwell and Maureen Shackelford are nutritionists and registered dietitians at Anne Arundel Medical Center. To reach them, call 443-481-5555.

Originally published July 2, 2018. Last updated June 19, 2020.