Why Do We Need Water?
Human bodies are composed mostly of water (around two thirds to be specific). So it’s no surprise that staying hydrated is essential for our health, whatever the weather or whenever the season. But in the heat of summer, we lose more of our water in the form of sweat, particularly when exercising. That’s why it’s so vital to keep your hydration in check when you’re out enjoying the sun – otherwise you can experience those unpleasant symptoms of dehydration, such as a pounding headache, dry throat and tiredness.
Typically, we rely on our thirst to tell us when to drink. However, that parched throat feeling can be a warning that we’ve already become dehydrated, and need a drink to get back to healthy levels. It’s better to stay continually hydrated throughout the day by practicing good habits, knowing when and how to top up and making sure you recognise the warning signs of dehydration.
So, here are 5 ways you can stay happy and healthy this summer by watching your water intake.
Always Bring A Water Bottle
This one is pretty obvious, but it bears remembering: you should always have access to water when out and about this summer.
Having a water bottle available at all times is the best way to stay fully hydrated throughout the day, allowing you to top up frequently and providing immediate relief after exercise. Consider investing in a BPA-free reusable bottle to take with you, as you don’t want to have to walk home in sweltering heat just to drink a glass of water, or have to go and buy a drink every time you’re thirsty.
But how much should you be bringing with you? It all depends on how long you’re going to be out and whether you’re doing exercise. If it’s a more relaxed outing such as a walk around the park or a trip to the shops, just bringing a standard 500ml water bottle and sipping from it frequently should keep you hydrated enough.
However, if you’re going to be breaking a serious sweat via exercise or by staying outside for hours during a heatwave, you’ll probably want to bring at least a liter bottle minimum, and make extra sure you’re taking swigs before, during and after exercise, to counteract the water you shed by sweating.
In general, aim to drink between 6 – 8 glasses of fluid daily .
Stick To Water
Nowadays we have an endless variety of drinks to choose from, ranging from tea and coffee to soft drinks and juices, beers and cocktails to whatever charcoal-activated superfood smoothie is in vogue! Basically, any fluid works just as good for hydration as water, right?
Well, there are plenty of reasons sticking to water for your hydration and health is the best bet. Firstly, it’s cheap, it isn’t calorific, and it doesn’t contain any sugars that damage your teeth. Water is simply the best all day, every day fluid for hydration. If you rely on juice or fizzy drinks to quench your thirst, you’re consuming far more calories from liquid than you should be, which can lead to weight gain, not to mention the sugar intake.
Is it true that drinks such as coffee and tea actually dehydrate you? It’s true that drinks such as coffee can be diuretic, meaning they make your body produce urine more quickly. This can have a dehydrating effect if you’re not being careful, but the claim that coffees and teas don’t contribute to hydration is false . While we’re on the subject of diuretics, alcohol can also be a common cause of dehydration, particularly if you’re not balancing out the booze with water between pints.
Drinks such as teas and coffees with no added sugars, milks and small amounts of juice can all be healthy contributors to hydration, but for the bulk of your fluid intake, nothing beats water.
Check Your Pee Colour
Ever wondered why your pee changes colour between basically clear and a dark shade of yellow? It’s all down to hydration, which is why checking the colour of your urine is a great way to find out how hydrated you are!
Typically, urine is almost entirely water. When we become dehydrated, our kidneys retain more water, causing our pee to take on a darker colour. As such, your pee colour can be used as an indicator of hydration, as sometimes your thirst response doesn’t provide adequate warning, particularly as we grow older .
Maybe it sounds odd, but taking note of the colour of your pee is a good hydration habit to get into! Basically, clear or light urine is a good sign that your fluid intake is adequate. Once urine starts becoming markedly yellow and cloudy, it’s a sign you should be drinking more water. Any darker than that, and you’re almost certainly dehydrated – get some fluids immediately .
Don’t Forget Fruits & Veg
Does our diet really impact our hydration? By quite a lot, actually. It’s easy to forget that there is a lot of water content in the foods we eat, and this contributes to our daily fluid intake. Studies have found that food moisture can contribute anywhere between 27% to 36% of your total water intake .
What foods are best for intaking water? Well, fruits and vegetables, as well being packed with vitamins and fibre, provide us with a lot of water. Even better, the foods with the most water content often make for the most refreshing summer snacks.
Fruits and vegetables high in water content include:
- Berries such as blueberries and strawberries
Next time you’re out and about in the summer heat, take a pot of berries with you, a slice of melon or some chopped cucumber to snack on. It’s not only refreshing and flavoursome, but it’s a fantastic compliment to your water bottle when it comes to staying hydrated.
Most of us know that hydration is the key to feeling good in the summer months, but applying that knowledge doesn’t always come naturally. After all, once you’re engaged in an exercise, socialising with friends or simply caught up in your errands, it can become all too easy to forget about that water bottle tucked away in your bag.
Some water bottles come with time markings, representing the amount of water you should be getting through throughout the day. It’s an immediate visual reminder that hopefully burns itself into your brain after swigging from the bottle over time – plus, many designs have motivating messages applauding your commitment to hydration!
You can also simply set a phone reminder every hour, buzzing your pocket to tell you to drink some water. You can also remember some basic rules to follow throughout your daily routine, such as always pre-hydrating before going out or having a couple sips after going to the loo (‘one-out, one-in’)!
Your Summer Health
Hydration isn’t the only health issue to keep in mind this summer – don’t forget about sun protection, or the effects of pollen on hayfever sufferers. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Find out if Sunblock Pills Really Work, and make sure to check out these 6 Hay Fever Home Remedies.
- Water, Drinks and Your Health | NHS
- No Evidence of Dehydration with Moderate Daily Coffee Intake: A Counterbalanced Cross-Over Study in a Free-Living Population | PubMed
- Influence of Age on Thirst and Fluid Intake | PubMed
- Hydration (PDF) | NHS
- Contribution of Water from Food and Fluids to Total Water Intake: Analysis of a French and UK Population Surveys | PubMed
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