Summer is quickly approaching and most of us will now spend a lot of time outside for celebratory events and exercising. Studies have found that good hydration is associated with a reduction in the risk of urinary tract infections, hypertension, and coronary artery disease (Popkin, Barry M et al). With this, it is important to understand the signs of dehydration and learn some tips for staying hydrated during these warm months.
Depending on age, signs of dehydration may be different. For example, for an infant or young child, signs of dehydration include dry mouth and tongue, no tears when crying, no wet diapers for three hours, sunken eyes and cheeks, a soft spot on top of the skull, and/or irritability (“Dehydration”). In an adult, signs of dehydration include extreme thirst, less frequent urination, dark-colored urine, fatigue, dizziness, and/or confusion. It is true that if you already feel thirsty, then you are already dehydrated (“Dehydration”).
It is recommended to drink about 64 fluid ounces per day. This number may fluctuate based on age, sex, and any medical conditions where fluid retention may take place, so it is important to discuss your fluid needs with your doctor. Given this information, it is important to stay hydrated when we may be exercising and sweating more, which leads to more fluid loss. Plain water may be boring for some, so here are some suggestions to make hydrating fun during these months!
Switch the sugary beverages for sparkling water: Sodas typically contain more sodium, so consuming these without consuming extra water increases the risk for dehydration since water will be pulled from the cells for the sodium to be excreted (Gonçalves, C., Abreu, S., Padrão, P. et al). Swapping for sparkling water or seltzer allows you to get the same sensation of carbonation like a soda, while lowering your sugar and sodium content, and adding to your water intake.
Add fruit, vegetables, or calorie-free sweeteners: Adding lemons, limes, oranges, berries, and cucumbers are just some ways to spice up your water and add flavor to make drinking a little more enjoyable. This can be prepared the night before for a stronger flavor.
Adding an alarm or reminder on your phone to stay hydrated is another great way to ensure you are drinking enough during the day. To practice sustainability as well, using a reusable water bottle and carrying it with you is another way to boost hydration during the day.
“Dehydration”. Mayo Clinic. Published October 14, 2021. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/symptoms-causes/syc-20354086
Gonçalves, C., Abreu, S., Padrão, P. et al. “Association between sodium excretion and hydration status by Free Water Reserve: a cross-sectional analysis in adolescents.” BioMed Central Nutrition. Vol 1, 17. 25 August 2015. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40795-015-0013-y
Popkin, Barry M et al. “Water, hydration, and health.” Nutrition reviews vol. 68,8 (2010): 439-58. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x