It’s hot out there. Sure, it’s summer and it’s to be expected, but that doesn’t make it any easier to bear when you’re outside in the heat and humidity. When temperatures top 90 degrees, we naturally want to spend as little time outdoors as possible and search for ways to stay cool when we have to be outdoors. One no-brainer way is to simply drink more water. It sounds easy, but many of us don’t drink enough, leading to dehydration which can cause health risks and is particularly dangerous this time of year. So, why don’t we drink enough water? For some, it’s the taste. Many say they just don’t care for the taste of water and prefer to drink just about anything else when they’re thirsty. The trouble is that those people tend to replace the water they would drink with beverages that aren’t as healthy, such as sodas and energy drinks, which may quench their immediate thirst, but can have downsides, too.
Blount Memorial registered dietitian Angie Tillman says it is critical to stay hydrated this summer. “Proper hydration is so important for overall health and wellness,” Tillman said. “The average adult’s body weight is composed of 50 to 65 percent water. Because of this, even small amounts of dehydration can cause symptoms such as fatigue, headache and nausea. A lack of proper hydration also can make weight loss more difficult. Sometimes, feelings of thirst are mistaken for feelings of hunger, which can lead to overeating between meals,” she explained. “Especially in hot temperatures and with increased physical activity, purposefully working to improve your hydration status is critical,” she added.
Tillman says many people aren’t conscious of their hydration level each day. “I find that many people don’t drink enough throughout the day because they just don’t think about it,” she said. “There are, however, some strategies you can use to make staying hydrated easier. First, consider keeping a glass of water beside your bed. This way, you can drink a full glass when you first wake up each morning. This helps your body replenish and recoup some of the hydration you lose during sleep. Next, try carrying a water bottle around with you each day to fill up as you need it. This keeps water on-hand and will help you avoid buying other drinks that aren’t as healthy for you,” she explained. “If you do wind up drinking something besides water, try to remember to balance that with water later. For instance, you should drink at least one glass of water for each caffeinated beverage you drink each day.”
You also can try adding some healthy elements to make your water more appealing. “If you don’t like the taste of plain water, try adding some fruits, berries, cucumbers or herbs to make it more flavorful. Some combinations include watermelon-basil water, lime-blackberry-lavender water and cucumber-citrus-mint water. If you choose to drink something besides water, look for drinks that are low in sugar. Unsweetened flavored sparkling water such as LaCroix is bubbly and carbonated, for instance, while coconut water has electrolytes and natural carbohydrates. Kombucha, too, can be a good source of probiotics, or you could always try different teas. Unsweetened iced teas, green teas, black teas and herbal teas all are refreshing ways to stay hydrated if water isn’t your favorite,” she said.
“The bottom line is, all of us can do a better job of staying hydrated this summer,” Tillman continued. “There are lots of ways to work more water into your day, so be creative and, most of all, be more conscious of how much water you’re consuming each day,” she added.