Summer is here! With the hot weather and people getting outside more often for various activities, it’s a good time of year to review the importance of staying hydrated.
Every cell in your body needs water to survive. Your body uses water for many purposes:
Your brain needs to be hydrated. Water aids in brain function which is related to balancing your mood and emotions.
Water aids in memory function. Staying hydrated improves blood and oxygen flow to your brain, thus improving memory and cognitive functioning.
Water aids in temperature control of your body. When you are overheated, your body sweats. Your sweat evaporates and cools your body down helping you maintain a health temperature. You need fluids to replenish the water that you lose in sweat.
Water aids in keeping your skin moist and elastic.
Water aids in the transporting oxygen to your muscles. It keeps your muscles lubricated and energized. It aids in muscle efficiency.
Water aids in helping your heart pump blood more easily.
Water aids in weight loss. Water quenches your thirst without the calories and flushes out the byproducts of fat.
Your joints, brain and eyes are surrounded by water. Water aids in keeping them hydrated and thus protected.
Water is important for the elimination of waste from your body. Water makes urination and bowel movements comfortable. The waste that water helps you excrete would otherwise poison your body.
Water helps with digestion starting with the saliva in your mouth down to the water in your digestive tract. Water allows your body to digest food.
Water helps your immune system in fighting illnesses by keeping your lymph fluid in balance.
Water aids in preventing headaches, fatigue, joint pain and muscle weakness.
How much water do you need to drink?
You should drink water every day. The general guideline has been six to eight 8-ounce glasses a day. Different people need different amounts. Most people stay adequately hydrated by drinking water when they are thirsty. Other drinks and foods help you stay hydrated as well. Fruits and vegetables contain water. Teas, coffee, and sodas have water content as well. Overall, it’s recommended that you limit caffeinated drinks as caffeine can cause you to urinate more frequently and feel jittery. Other drinks may have unwanted calories. Sports drinks can be helpful when you are exercising as they contain carbohydrates and electrolytes that can increase your energy level but watch the labels. Some are high in calories, sodium, and/or caffeine.
If you’re having a hard time staying hydrated, try some of these tips:
Make your water more appealing by adding ice and fruit slices.
Keep a bottle of water with you throughout the day.
Try drinking water on a schedule such as before and after a task or hourly.
If you feel hungry, drink water first, and wait 15 minutes. Thirst is often confused with hunger. Drinking water can help you feel full.
Drink water before, during and after a workout, game or hike.
Signs of dehydration include the following:
Little or no urine; dark yellow or amber colored urine.
If you are experiencing symptoms of dehydration, drink water!
Some people are at greater risk of dehydration.
Are you participating in high intensity exercise or out in the hot weather?
Do you perspire heavily?
Do you have diabetes or heart disease?
Do you have a bladder infection?
Are you on a medication that acts as a diuretic?
Are you experiencing fever, vomiting or diarrhea?
Are you pregnant or breastfeeding?
Are you an older adult? As you age, your brain may not be able to sense that you are dehydrated.
Enjoy your summer. Drink more water!
Center for Disease Control (CDC)
American Academy of Family Physicians