Most of us look forward to those long days of summer when we can spend a lot of time outdoors and soak up the sun’s energy. But with summer also come hot days which require a bit of extra attention from our part to make sure we stay properly hydrated.
When we think about summer, we imagine ourselves chilling on the beach, cooling down in the water doing some exciting water sports or lounging under the shade of a tree on a cooking holiday. Whichever way you choose to spend those long, hot days, make sure you keep a bottle of water nearby at all times. Multiple studies have shown that even mild dehydration is dangerous and can impair our cognitive function.
With that in mind, in this article, we will take a look at the first signs of dehydration as well as what to do to prevent dehydration during those sweltering summer days.
How do you know you are mildly dehydrated?
Here are some signs that you are mildly dehydrated and should take action to rehydrate:
- you feel thirsty
- you have a headache or feel lightheaded
- you feel tired or sleepy
- you go to the toilet less often (or the urine output is decreased)
- your urine is dark colored (think: the color of the apple juice or tea)
- you are constipated
You should be aware when your child is dehydrated as the signs are a bit different:
- they are less active than usual
- (for infants) no wet diapers for 3 hours
- there are fewer tears when they cry
Also, pay attention when caring for elderly adults. As we age, our bodies lose their natural thirst mechanism and dehydration can set in pretty quickly.
What should you do to ensure you don’t get dehydrated?
It is quite easy to make sure we keep our bodies properly hydrated during the day. Here are some easily actionable tips to keep in mind:
Carry a water bottle
First of all, invest in a reusable water bottle that you actually like (and feel like carrying around with you). Make room for it in your daypack and make sure it’s always filled with water. Once you get to work, place it on your desk. If it’s there to nag you, you’ll drink from it.
Track your water intake
Make sure to track the water intake. It is easy to overestimate how much water you drink during the day. There are a lot of free apps available and many fitness trackers’ apps also offer this function.
And before you ask, there is no proof behind the 8 cup of water a day advice. There is no rule and it depends on your body and how active you are. During summer, we may need even twice as much!
Drink water throughout the day
Drink two glasses of water upon waking up. Drink a glass of water about half an hour before your meals, as well as during your meals. Always drink water about half an hour before you start exercising and every 10-20 min as you exercise. Don’t forget that cup of water after you are done with your routine, either.
If you feel that it’s hard to remember, you can also set a reminder on your phone to drink water every hour. Plus, an easy trick is to just rehydrate – drink a cup of water – after you’ve been to the restroom.
Hate plain water? Worry not, there are healthy ways to make it more…palatable. Check out these flavored water recipes which come with the added bonus of being detox waters! Or just put a wedge of lemon (or lime) in the water bottle.
Avoid energy drinks
Packed with sugar and caffeine, energy drinks do the exact opposite of what you want to achieve: they dehydrate you! On top of that, they come with a host of possible side effects, including but not limited to palpitation, tremor, agitation, and shaking.
Eat lots of fruits and veggies
Hot days are perfect to give our body a rest when it comes to digestion. Aim to eat a lot of raw fruits and veggies. Thankfully, there are a lot of hydrating fruits and vegetables including: cucumbers, eggplant, zucchini, cantaloupe, watermelon, bell pepper, pear, romaine lettuce, pineapple, carrots, mango, apple, grapefruit, strawberries, orange, raspberries, celery, blueberries, baby spinach, grapes, tomato, and kiwi.
Start your day with a salad consisting of romaine lettuce, baby spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, and celery; through the day, enjoy the fruits in season, especially watermelon and cantaloupe.
Compensate alcoholic drinks with drinking water
Ideally, you should avoid alcohol altogether during the heat; but if you are at a reception or a wedding, you may want to party a little bit. In this case, for each alcoholic drink compensate with a glass of water. This also reduces your chances to get a hangover the next day.
Love coffee? Then learn from the Greeks: drink a cup of water alongside
Yes, coffee is a stimulant and dehydrates you. No, you don’t have to give it up. But learn from the Greeks: always drink water when you drink coffee. Any tavern or café in Greece will bring a cup of water (or pitcher) to the table when you order coffee.
Other things you can do
If you already drink enough water but still have some of the signs of dehydration, you may want to take a look at other things:
Wear breathable clothing
When you wear clothes that make you sweat too much, you are on a very quick path to dehydration. You want to wear light, breathable clothing, made of natural fabric. And, yes, please avoid dark colors.
Speaking of clothing, don’t stay in the sun without protecting your head! A bandana is a cute idea if you are wearing something casual, while a sun hat is just perfect when you wear a summer dress.
Are you really hungry?
Some people ignore thirst signals for so long that they are chronically dehydrated and may not even know it. To prevent that, when you feel hungry, drink a cup of water. If you are dehydrated rather than hungry, your hunger will go away. If it persists after half an hour, by all means, eat something.
When someone is dehydrated, the histamine levels increase, creating the perfect conditions for allergies to set in. If you are suddenly sneezing all the time and your eyes itch, reach out for the glass of water first.
On prescription drugs? Check the side effects
Some drugs may dehydrate you. If you drink enough water but still get the signs of dehydration, it’s time to read the side effects of all the drugs you are taking. If you notice something, talk your health provider to look into alternatives.
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