When it comes to staying hydrated, there can be a lot of competing information out there. Some health influencers recommend drinking a huge amount of water everyday while there are others who say that the water craze is overdone. There are health risks to not drinking enough water, but there are also risks if someone ingests too much. It can be hard to get a bead on how much hydration keeps you healthy, how much hydration will keep you in the bathroom, and how much hydration can be deadly.
As a nation, health experts say that Americans are generally a severely under-hydrated population. Current estimates say that about 75% of Americans are dehydrated on a daily basis, not taking in enough water for health. That said, Americans do love their sweet coffee drinks, sodas, and cocktails. But here’s the caveat. According to a recent article by Suzannah Weiss and JR Thorpe, “Even if you’re drinking water, you can still be dehydrated, because certain drinks can cancel it out: coffee and soda are particular culprits.”1 So while you may be doing a good job getting in the generally recommended eight servings of 8 ounces of water a day, for every cup of coffee and for each can of Diet Coke, you need to drink an additional glass of water. For those of us struggling to remember to get in those eight glasses of water, it can be even more daunting to gulp down even more water to counteract our caffeine liquids of choice.
It’s also important to note that while the recommendation to drink about 64 ounces of water a day is the generally accepted rule, not all human bodies have the same requirements. You may find that you need more than that to stay adequately hydrated. Then there’s the activity factor; the more you move, the more water you need. And let’s not forget the climate you live in, particularly in the summer months. According to Amy Shapiro, a registered dietician and nutritionist, it’s important to pay attention to these factors when it comes to determining the right amount of hydration for you. “It is important to replenish the water we lose when we sweat to prevent dehydration,” says Shapiro. “One of the best ways to accomplish this is to drink water throughout the day and before you actually feel thirsty.”2
As the temperatures climb this summer, here are a few tips for staying on top of your hydration game:
Sip throughout the day, not all in one big gulp session.
“Your body will absorb more water over the course of the day, rather than at one shot!” says Dr. Scott Michael Schreiber, a board-certified rehabilitation specialist.3 Keep a water bottle handy at all times, on your desk, in your car, and get in the habit of sipping often.
Be aware of the signs of dehydration.
A long day in the sun can zap you. And part of that sense of exhaustion could be dehydration. Also pay attention to how your skin feels. Are you feeling itchy, dry, or irritated? Those can all be signals of dehydration. Headaches, dizziness, and achiness are also symptoms to watch out for.
Indulge in high-water foods.
There are many fruits and vegetables that hold a great deal of water and make a great addition to your summer diet. Cucumbers, watermelon, celery, spinach, and grapefruit are among the delicious options that can help your hydration intake.
Take time to cool off.
Staying hydrated is, yes, about getting enough water. But it’s also about supporting the body through having time that you cool down during the summer heat. In addition to carrying and drinking enough water, take time in the shade. Consider carrying a misting fan or a cooling towel. These strategies can help break the cycle of water expenditure on hot days.
Wherever your summer plans take you, plan your hydration. You’ll protect your health when you sip on water throughout the day, and you’ll feel better when the heat rises. Raise a glass to the original beverage, good old H20!
Disclaimer: This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions regarding a medical condition.