With warmer weather, it’s almost a no-brainer: water is essential to avoid dehydration.
But Vancouver-based registered dietitian Desiree Nielsen says hydration isn’t just about fluids — there are several ways to make sure you are hydrated all day.
“The foods you eat also contribute to your hydration status,” she tells Global News. “If you consume a lot of meat or baked goods like muffins and crackers, you will require more water to stay hydrated. If you eat more fruits and vegetables, which are mostly water, you will require less water to stay hydrated.”
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Fluids in the summertime
And the season, in particular, is also important, she adds. As temperatures rise, we lose more water through sweating and even more so when we are active.
“The average person definitely should consider upping their fluid intake in the summer … but the standard ‘eight glasses of water a day’ isn’t the best guideline as hydration is very individualized,” she says.
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Your body size, diet, the temperature and your activity level all determine how much fluid you need to stay hydrated. “The best, most individualized way to judge hydration? Your pee should be pale in colour. If it is dark yellow, you need more fluid.”
Anar Allidina, a registered dietitian based in Toronto, says water also carries heat away from our internal organs. She notes the weather change is also a good time to take note of how much water or other fluids you are drinking during the day.
Dangers of dehydration
And not getting enough water also poses health risks. Mild dehydration, Allidina adds, can contribute to fatigue, difficulty concentrating, confusion, and irritability. “Dehydration can also cause headaches,” she says.
Nielsen adds dehydration can also be very serious and if you are feeling any symptoms, talk to a doctor right away.
“Dehydration can decrease blood volume and blood pressure that could cause you to feel faint and decrease oxygen supply to your cells,” she says. “Electrolyte imbalances caused by water loss could impact muscle contractions with dangerous results, particularly in older people. And for those of us enjoying fun in the sun, dehydration can lead to heat stroke.”
Below, Allidina and Nielsen share their top tips on staying hydrated all summer long — besides just drinking a glass of H2O.
Nielsen says fruits and vegetables like cucumbers, watermelon, citrus fruits and leafy greens like spinach, are great sources of water. She adds drinking more green juices and smoothies during the summer also helps. Allidina adds zucchini, in particular, is about 95 per cent water.
Allidina says coconut water is refreshing and filled with natural electrolytes. “Coconut water contains sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. A great choice especially if you are spending a lot of time outdoors,” she adds. However, you should be mindful and avoid drinks with more than eight grams of sugar.
Chia seeds have the ability to absorb 30 times their weight in water, Allidina adds, so try soaking 1/2 a cup to make yourself a chia seed pudding topped with fruit.
Iced herbal decaffeinated teas
Allidina says there are so many great flavours of herbal and fruit infused teas available in the summer. Again, make sure you are avoiding teas loaded with added sugar.