With the summer heat starting to sizzle, staying hydrated becomes a priority when braving the season’s scorching temperatures.
You may immediately think of water, and rightfully so – it’s the go-to method of preventing dehydration.
But staying hydrated isn’t restricted to carrying a water bottle everywhere you go – you can keep yourself hydrated throughout the day in other ways, says Vancouver-based registered dietitian Desiree Nielsen.
“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.”
And in the summer, this becomes even more crucial. As temperatures get hotter, our bodies lose more water through perspiration, which just gets worse when we’re 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,” Nielsen says.
Body size, diet, temperature, and activity level all influence how much fluid you actually need to prevent dehydration.
“The best, most individualized way to judge hydration? Your pee should be pale in colour. If it is dark yellow, you need more fluid.”
Dangers of dehydration
The problem with relying solely on water to keep hydrated is it can do too good of a job of keeping us cool. Water can also carry heat away from our organs, putting us at risk of health issues.
Plus, mild dehydration can create fatigue, difficulty concentrating, confusion, and irritability.
Nielsen says dehydration can escalate to serious, severe levels – feeling any symptoms of dehydration should mean an immediate visit to your doctor.
“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.”
Here are a few recommended ways you can keep hydrated this summer – without water:
Fruits and veggies – cucumbers, watermelon, citrus fruits, for example – are surprisingly strong sources of water. If you’re not a fan of full fruits, green juices and smoothies are a fine substitute, too.
For the best hydration value, zucchini is 95% water!
Okay, this may be cheating. But technically, infused water isn’t really water, per se (just go with it).
Flavour your water with herbs, fruit, or a bit of fruit juice for a bit of a kick.
Related: Five Hydration Myths Debunked
Coconut water is filled with natural electrolytes that power the body. “Coconut water contains sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. A great choice especially if you are spending a lot of time outdoors,” says Anar Allidina, a registered dietician based in Toronto.
Just be sure to avoid drinks with more than eight grams of sugar!
These small seeds hold a sneaky amount of H2O – they can absorb 30 times their weight in water! Therefore, you can soak ½ cup to make yourself a nice, hydrating chia seed pudding (topped with fruit!).
Iced herbal decaffeinated teas
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