As temperatures rise, drinking enough water should be at the top of your to-do list. Dehydration has more health implications than just making you thirsty.
(via CNN) Between trips to the swimming pool, planning summer picnics or going for a hike, summer is a busy time — which can make it easy to forget to drink enough water throughout the day. But remember: an inadequate amount of water can lead to dehydration and that has more health implications than you might think.
“Every cell in your body needs water to function properly,” says Dr. Kristen Nork, family practice physician with Renown Medical Group. “We are continuously losing water through breathing, sweating, and normal elimination. Dehydration is the abnormal fluid or electrolyte status that occurs when your body loses more fluid than you take in.”
If water’s lack of flavor leaves you wanting something more, try these ideas to pep up your next glass:
Slice It Up
Spruce up nature’s best with your favorite fruits or veggies — slices of lemons, oranges, cucumber or limes or even a sprig of mint. You can easily make a pitcher in the morning and dip into it all day long!
Change your Cubes
Freeze fruit juice (no sugar added) or fresh fruit into ice cubes and put them into your water for a slow release of flavor. Something as simple as changing the texture or look of your ice cubes can provide you with a new experience and keep you from water boredom.
Add Some Sparkle
If drinking your daily water sounds tedious and bland, try equal parts sparkling water and regular water to give some bubbles to your beverage.
High in antioxidants in its natural state, tea is an easy, healthful way to stay hydrated. Green tea drinkers reap additional benefits — several studies say it naturally protects you from several types of cancer, heart disease, hypertension and kidney stones. Plus, tea is good iced or hot — perfect to drink year-round!
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU’RE DEHYDRATED?
Beyond feeling thirsty, dehydration can affect many areas of the body.
“Symptoms of dehydration include dry mouth and lips, general headache or body aches, unexplained fatigue and darker urine,” Dr. Nork says. “As dehydration becomes more severe, symptoms may include nausea, lightheadedness, confusion, rapid heart rate, and rapid breathing.”
What other signs should you look for?
- Your routines including workouts and driving will be affected.
- Feeling cranky? Dehydration can cause irritability.
- Dehydration also masks itself as hunger (particularly sugar cravings). You may find yourself unnecessarily snacking on unhealthy foods.
- Not drinking enough water will dry your skin out, making it appear duller and accentuating pores and wrinkles.
But how much water is enough? Is it eight 8-ounce glasses each day? Do you take your body weight divided by two and drink that many ounces?
There are several conflicting ideas on just how much water is the right amount. Dr. Nork says that it depends on several factors.
“Your body weight, activity level, and environment all play a role in how much water you should be drinking,” she says. “If you are very active, weigh yourself before and after a workout. Try to consume about 16 ounces of fluid for every pound you lose. In general, if your urine is pale yellow, you are hydrated.”
She also offers these tips on preventing dehydration in the summer:
- Plan ahead! Drink fluid, especially water, throughout the day and drink more when you are active or if you are thirsty.
- Avoid outdoor activities during the hottest times of the day or seek out shaded areas when possible.
- Wear lightweight, breathable clothing in light colors. Sweat-wicking fabrics will be the most comfortable.
- Wear hats and helmets with vents.
- Limit alcoholic beverages, which may contribute to dehydration.