Summertime is all about water: pools and oceans, watermelon and cucumbers, and for many people, lots of sweating! Drinking water in these high-temperature months is especially important in order to replace the fluids that we lose from naturally trying to stay cool. But is it as simple as 8 glasses of water per day for everyone? In this quick article, we break down common questions to hydration and how to balance fluid intake so we can feel and look our best this summer. Enjoy these hot months with a refreshing peace of mind!
Why do we care?
- Sometimes the "why not" is just as important as the "why". Being dehydrated can lead to many uncomfortable, and sometimes health-threatening, symptoms. These include headaches, muscle cramping, dry skin, feeling dizzy, experiencing fatigue or confusion, and even fainting. [source]
- Adequate hydration is crucial for maintaining every part of our body's functions. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, water is crucial for the following reasons: "to regulate body temperature, keep joints lubricated, prevent infections, deliver nutrients to cells, and keep organs functioning properly. Being well-hydrated also improves sleep quality, cognition, and mood." [source]
- From a more cosmetic perspective, water helps to keep skin plump enough in the face to prevent onset of wrinkles and dark eye circles, and over the rest of the body to prevent dry skin, hair, and eyes. Drinking water really does take care of us inside and out!
- We have the privilege to care: when was the last time you couldn't access clean drinking water? The CDC notes that 884 million people in the world don't have access to this [source]; that's the equivalent of 2 and a half times the US population. Drink up with gratitude!
How can we stay on top of it?
- Think outside the bottle: liquids count even if they aren't water. This includes: juice and unsweetened tea, smoothies, watery fruits and vegetables, milk in cereal, and intakes similar to this.
- Make friends with a reusable: carrying around a glass, plastic, or aluminum bottle can keep your water colder, and will eventually be an extension of you when you're in and out of the house. Keeping your water bottle in sight and handy will serve as a helpful reminder to drink. Plus, it's another fun opportunity for self-expression with stickers and fun designs!
- Take out the guesswork and bring in competition: there are reusable bottles that have marks along the side with timestamps so you are prompted to finish enough by the middle and end of the day [check out this example].
- Utilize technology: smartphone applications can help you keep track and provide reminders. These include WaterMinder (Apple) and Water Drink Reminder (Android). Setting 2-3 phone alarm reminders throughout the day will support you in your intake goals before it becomes a regular habit.
- Make it fun and flavorful! Throw in produce like strawberries, pineapple, cucumbers, and oranges/lemons, and/or herbs like mint or basil, to amp up the flavor
- There isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to the amount of glasses per day: a useful and accurate sign of adequate hydration is urine color. If urine is light yellow to mostly clear, you are all set. Urine that is moderate to dark in color indicates dehydration.
- There is such a thing as too much. While we are certainly supportive of staying hydrated, too much water (i.e., more than a 1-2 gallons per day for most people) can cause too-low levels of important electrolytes, like potassium and sodium.
- Again, hydration doesn't just have to come from guzzling water. If you don't love plain water but you're drinking sugar-free sparkling water, fresh tea, and/or milk, you are still counting towards hydrating yourself.
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– Samantha Marks, RD, LDN
Registered Dietitian | Email Samantha