If you’re like me, as soon as the days grow longer, I try to spend every minute I can outside. Whether you’re running, walking, or just eating lunch outdoors, the dog days of summer, along with the pleasures, can be exhausting and create a myriad of health complications, including heat stroke, bug bites, and dehydration. To thrive when the temperatures climb, it’s essential to make sure you’re staying hydrated.
Do you know how much you should really be drinking daily? While many are convinced 8 glasses (64 ounces) of fluids a day will do the trick, scientists now say otherwise. In reality, women and men require 91 ounces and 125 ounces, respectively, but these values can differ based on your activity level and the weather outside. Children and elderly adults are especially susceptible to dehydration, so remind those who are more vulnerable to keep guzzling.
Although the numbers above seem like you’ll have to attach yourself to the faucet, this fluid prescription could be a lot easier to swallow if you vary the beverages you consume. Avoid dampening your fun in the sun and make healthful hydration happen by following these tips for smarter summer sips:
• Drinking water is to exercise as hand-washing is to meal preparation: you need to be sure to drink up or wash up before, during, and after the activity. Keep a pitcher of water filled with a cup of ripe fruit in the fridge. Your whole family will love it!
• Special tip: Two easy ways to check adequate hydration is to check your urine color and your body weight. Urine should be relatively clear in color and for every pound lost through exercise, replace it with 20 ounces of fluid.
• Skip soda and go for sparkling water. It’s calorie free but can prevent beverage boredom. Unless you’re trying to beat bloat, sparkling water is a refreshing thirst-quencher. Flavored versions are available as well, but be sure to check the food label for calories — just because a beverage is clear in color, that doesn’t automatically make it clear of sugar.
• Jazz up your glass by adding a splash of 100% fruit juice to plain or sparkling water. Try 100% grape juice made with Concord grapes as an alternative to an otherwise dehydrating glass of wine. Many of the same polyphenols found in red wine are also found in Concord grapes – so this juice supports heart health. Four ounces (1/2 cup) contains a full serving of fruit.
• Make 100% fruit juice ice pops that are refreshing and hydrating. To assemble: pour 100% fruit juice and pieces of your favorite fruit into pop molds or cups and insert a popsicle stick. Freeze until solid.
• Beware though that not all juices are created equal! “Juice drinks” and “juice ades” could contain high fructose corn syrup and other sugars. Check labels to be sure you’re getting what you pay for – 100% fruit juice does not contain ANY added sugars.
• Proceed with caution when it comes to alcohol. It’s a diuretic, which actually makes you lose water, speeding up the dehydration process. If you do choose booze, alternate every alcoholic beverage with a glass of water or club soda.
• Energy drinks could zap energy. You may feel exhausted in the heat, but reaching for an energy drink could make you feel even more washed out. Many are laden with sugar and, unless you are sweating excessively or you’re participating in sports, you can replenish electrolytes more deliciously through watery fruits and veggies.
• Tea and coffee count: Just because they contain caffeine doesn’t take away from their hydrating effects. Keep iced tea or coffee in the fridge for a quick pick-me-up.
• Don’t just sip, but chew! Believe it or not, guzzling water isn’t the only way to stay healthy. About 35% of your daily fluid intake actually comes from food. Eat a refreshing salad (lettuce is 95% water) filled with produce to stay hydrated and boost your vitamin and mineral intake.
Our bodies are composed of two-thirds water and in hot, sweaty months it’s even more important to replenish our fluid reserves through the drinks and foods we consume. There are endless healthy choices you can select so don’t wait until you’re thirsty to raise your glass!