It’s the “Dog days of Summer” are you staying hydrated? Yes, the dog days of summer are recognized as the hottest days of the season. I know we’ve waited a long time for the hot temperatures, but this is when heat is accompanied by sticky, muggy almost suffocating weather. As kids you probably remember trying to stay cool by going to the beach, swimming or even just running through the lawn sprinkler. Of course, that helps but you must also remember to drink enough water!
Why should we drink water?
Your body needs water to survive. Water helps your body to carry nutrients into cells while removing waste. Water is used by your body to regulate things like blood pressure, normalize your body temperature and to help cushion your joints and organs. Bottom line, water is needed for overall health.
How much water should I drink?
The amount of water you need varies with each person. Children need less water than adults. If you are an adult maintaining high levels of physical activity, you might need to drink more water. A good guideline for most of adults is to take your weight in pounds and divide that by 2. That is approximately the number of ounces you can drink. Remember there are 8 ounces to a cup so, if you are 150lbs it looks like this:
150/2 = 75ounces
75/8 = 9.375 cups of water
Now this is only a guideline so if you are only used to drinking 3-4 cups of water daily you should not start drinking 9 glasses of water overnight. That would be too hard on your kidneys. You should consider making sure you are getting in the 4 glasses every day. After 4-5 days of making this a habit, you can add 1-2 glasses, making it 6 cups a day. Keep it at this level making sure you can do this with ease before trying to add any more.
If you are an active person, playing sports outdoors in this weather can leave you dehydrated. Even if you are drinking lots of water, you can run the risk of getting too low on your electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals in your body. They balance your acid/alkaline levels and the amount of water in your body. They help to move nutrients into your body while moving the waste out. Most importantly, electrolytes make sure that your nerves, muscles, heart and brain work efficiently.
Oh, I should also mention, be careful not to chug-a-lug an ice-cold glass of water on a hot day. This can send your body into shock. For some this could result in an upset stomach or even passing out while your body is trying to rebalance your temperature.
Signs of dehydration:
Symptoms of dehydration may include:
- Thirst. If you are thirsty or have dry mouth, you probably aren’t drinking enough.
- Urine color. If your urine is dark yellow and has a strong odor, you might be lacking in fluids.
- Lack of urine. If you don’t make much urine throughout the day, you might be dehydrated.
- Mood. Sometimes lack of water can make you feel lightheaded, give you headaches, make it difficult for you to focus or cause fatigue.
- Flushed skin often showing as redness in your cheeks or
- Dry cough.
The best way to beat dehydration is to drink before you get thirsty.
How to stay hydrated
Water is best. If you prefer flavor, add fruit to your water. Fruit will offer a light flavoring without the unhealthy sugar. Herbal teas are helpful to stay hydrated. Also, foods like watermelon, tomatoes and lettuce have good water content.
Drinks that are high in caffeine like coffee, black tea, soda pop and energy drinks are dehydrating. Alcoholic beverages are also dehydrating, that’s why you are always going to the bathroom once you start drinking them.
Sports drinks are high in electrolytes, but some are high in sugar and artificial color. Others may use artificial sweetener in order to reduce the sugar levels. The best and easy to make electrolyte refresher is made right in your own kitchen. I’ve added a recipe for you to try and make your own. You can also find this recipe on my website under the “Food for Thought” page.
There are many ways to beat the heat. Don’t get thirsty, stay hydrated my friends!