Avoid dehydration effects this summer
Water is important all year, and it’s even more important now that the weather is getting warmer. When you’re outside in the heat and sweating more, you need to replenish the water and minerals your body loses. Staying hydrated is especially important for young kids and older adults who feel dehydration effects more acutely than the rest of us.
When you’re dehydrated, you’re losing more fluid than you’re putting in your body. It’s not always easy to tell when you’re getting to that point either. The Mayo Clinic explained that most people are already dehydrated to some extent when they feel thirsty. Other signs of dehydration include:
- Dark urine;
- Extreme thirst;
- Confusion; and
- Urinating less frequently.
People with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes or kidney disease, may also be at higher risk of getting dehydrated.
What are the effects?
Water helps your body absorb nutrients, digest your food and rid your body of toxins. These processes can suffer when you don’t get enough. Dehydration, even in mild cases, also dries out your skin. Dry skin is less resilient and more prone to wrinkles, according to the University of Wisconsin. Drinking more water helps your skin maintain a healthy glow.
Less water can also lead to dry mouth and bad breath. Even mild dehydration affects your mood and energy levels, according to research at the University of Connecticut.
You can check for dehydration by pinching the skin on the back of your hand. If it snaps back into place, you’re hydrated. If it sags a little, it’s time to grab a bottle of water.
How can you boost your intake?
You’ve probably heard that you need eight glasses of water a day to negate dehydration effects. That’s a decent guideline, but your fluid needs depend most on how much you’re losing. Days when you’re out in the direct sun sweating or playing sports, you need to drink more than when you’re hanging out inside. Sports drinks can fulfill some need when you’re excessively sweating, but watch out for too much sugar or artificial sweeteners. Sodas and drinks with caffeine are best avoided because they’re diuretics, which increase urination.
Here are ways to keep yourself and your family hydrated through the summer:
- Fill up – Keep water bottles filled and ready for everyone whenever you go out. Sipping throughout the day is best to replenish lost fluids.
- Use fruit – Add in fruit slices or cucumber to flavor your water.
- Avoid soda – If you’re missing sodas, opt for mineral or seltzer water. Mix it with fruit juice for a sweet, carbonated treat.
- Provide juice – Have 100-percent juice boxes on hand for kids on extra hot days. Juice is high in sugar, so it should be limited, but an occasional juice may be worth it to keep your kids drinking fluids.
- Eat produce – Pack fruits and vegetables for snacks when you go out. Most of them have a high water content, which helps keep you hydrated.
As the weather heats up, remember to be conscious about how much you’re drinking throughout the day. Also, keep an eye on kids and grandparents as well to make sure they’re not falling behind on their intake.
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