Summer is upon us and with that an increased need for hydration. It may surprise you that many people drink virtually no water at all and believe they get a sufficient amount in their coffee or tea. Aside from water, coffee and tea each contain caffeine which actually contributes to dehydration instead of resolving it.
This occurs simply by loosing more water than you take in. Each day we diminish our water by evaporating it through our skin, breathing as we exhale, urinating and through fecal material in our stool.
This loss of water can be caused by many things such as:
- Heat exposure especially during exercise
- Diarrhea and/or vomiting
- Urinary tract infections
- Limited water and/or drinking dehydrating beverages such as coffee, tea etc
Dehydration leads to a variety of symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Being thirsty or having a dry mouth is obvious but some symptoms are not so apparent and often go unrecognized. Headache, rapid heart rate, dizziness, rapid breathing, irritabilty and/or confusion, listlessness, muscle cramping, delerium and in a severe state loss of consciousness can all be caused by dehydration. Urine color is also a tell tale sign. Urine color should be pale yellow to clear. Darker urine is indicative of dehydration, but be aware that taking Vitamin B can also create a darker urine color even when you are well hydrated.
While prevention is obviously the best choice, remedying dehydration is fairly simple. Drink plenty of water or drinks with electolytes. Stay away from soda, caffeine and sugar laden energy or sport drinks. While Gatorade is a good hydration source its cousin, G2 contains half the carbs and calories but has the same electolytes for hydration making it a much better choice.
The amount of water we need depends on our weight and the eight glasses/day that you may have heard is not true for everyone. Larger people need more water. Sixty Four to 100 ounces a day is a good rule of thumb for most average weights with increasing amounts during times of exessive perspration, workouts, sickness or burns. If you allow yourself to get dehydrated know that it can take a day or so of consistent hydrating to get back to a proper level of hydration. Alcohol will also dehydrate you. If you are drinking alcohol make sure you drink additonal water. Not only will it keep you hydrated you will drink less alcohol and consume fewer empty calories.
Lastly, let’s not forget our pets. They get dehydrated just as easily so keep their bowls full of fresh water especially if they spend time outside. Fortunately they aren’t nearly as resistant as some of us are and will drink when they are thirsty. As long as the water is available they will generally self regulate well.
If I haven’t convinced you yet that drinking water is critical to virtually every aspect of maintaining a healthy body consider that drinking the proper amount of water water will keep your skin moist, plumped and younger looking. So, please be mindful, good to yourself, drink enough water and stay healthy.