Why You Should Prioritize Hydration This Summer

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Story by Annie Eller, RD LD   |   contact@annieellerrd.com

Proper hydration is important year round, but we should be especially diligent about it during the summer months. Drinking enough might seem like a simple enough habit, but it’s not uncommon for adults and adolescents to be chronically dehydrated. According to the CDC, from 2005-2010, adolescents in the U.S. only drank 15 ounces of water per day and adults only drank 39 ounces of water per day. This is significantly lower than the recommendation from the U.S. national academies of science, engineering, and medicine that adults should be getting  91-125 ounces per day. Why is being hydrated so important? We will discuss that below, in addition to what factors impact hydration, how much we should be drinking each day, and which foods can help us stay hydrated.



Why is Hydration Important?

We are often told that hydration is important – but learning WHY can help motivate us to actually improve. Here’s the WHY; water is key to keeping the body functioning properly.

We need enough water in order to maintain a regular body temperature, ensure that nutrients are delivered to cells, prevent kidney stones, keep bowel movements regular, and lubricate joints and spinal cord. Since the body is made up of 60% water, dehydration can impact multiple different systems. Mild to moderate dehydration can lead to excessive thirst, headaches, poor sports performance, and lethargy. Severe dehydration can become dangerous very quickly, leading to the body overheating, altered mental state, and impaired cardiovascular function.

How Much Fluid Should We Be Drinking?

Understanding the importance of hydration is one thing, but learning how MUCH water to drink is also key. There are different recommendations for water intake depending on many factors such as; activity level, body size, climate, illness, etc. The best way to indicate if you are properly hydrated is based on your urine – pale yellow is considered properly hydrated whereas dark colored urine would indicate dehydration. Our bodies are also good about signaling whether or not we should be drinking more! Pay attention to cues such as headache, fatigue, and excessive thirst. For a more defined goal, as stated above, the U.S. national academies of sciences, engineering, and medicine concluded that adequate daily fluid intake is 11.5 cups for women and 15.5 cups for men. Using this general goal and your own physical cues, you can decide what proper hydration looks like for you! Remember that in warmer climates or when exercising vigorously for longer periods, your hydration needs will increase.



Foods and Beverages That Are Hydrating

If the thought of drinking 11-15 cups of water every day feels intimidating, remember that certain foods can also contribute to hydration! The foods that are the most hydrating are fruits and veggies due to their high water content. Making sure you eat at least 5 cups of fruits and vegetables daily is a great goal for overall health and hydration. Some examples of F/V with the highest water content are: watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, peaches, oranges, cucumber, lettuce, zucchini, and bell peppers. Additionally, you can always get a variety of different beverages instead of just drinking water alone! Some examples of other hydrating beverages include: sparkling water, low fat milk, decaffeinated tea, or fruit infused water. Using a variety of foods and beverages to meet your hydration needs will make the process easier and leave you more satisfied!

Goal Setting Surrounding Hydration

With the summer season upon us, it’s a great time to set new goals whether they are related to health, finance, work, etc. Use this summer to start focusing on improving your hydration! One way to stay consistent is to track your fluid intake each day. Having a written account of your progress can bring awareness and help motivate you. Having a water bottle or cup that shows ounces can be a helpful visual as well! If you enjoy having caffeine or alcohol, use the 1:1 rule. For every caffeinated or alcoholic beverage you have, follow it up with a glass of water. Switching back and forth between the two can help prevent dehydration.



A Healthy and Hydrating Recipe to Try!

Summer Corn Salad Recipe (from All Recipes)

Ingredients:
  • 6 ears of corn
  • 3 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions:
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  • Boil corn cobs for 7-10 minutes or until tender.
  • Rinse and cut the corn off the cob.
  • In a large bowl, toss together all ingredients and cool before serving.

Want more information on improving your hydration or overall health? Reach out to a registered dietitian! You can find a dietitian in your area by searching ‘dietitian near me’ online. For more general health info follow @annieellerrd on instagram or visit annieellerrd.com!

Resources:

https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/data-statistics/plain-water-the-healthier-choice.html

https://www.europeanhydrationinstitute.org/consequences_of_dehydration/

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/25160/summer-corn-salad/

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