The summer solstice is upon us, and this summer is gearing up to be one of the hottest in the last two centuries. With warmer than average temperatures striking all corners of the country, it’s beneficial to reevaluate our methods of hydration (especially in my home state of Alabama, where the air turns to lava around mid-May).
Whatever state you call home during the summer months, regularly hydrating should be at the top (or at least number two to applying sunscreen) of your list of things to do while enjoying the summer sun and heat this year. The following five tips will help you keep your hydration on track (and even trick your mind into believing you’re not forcing water on it).
Wherever you roam, take water with you.
Fill up a few reusable water bottles and stick them in the fridge overnight, so you can grab one on your way out. No matter if you’re taking the boat on the lake, mowing the lawn or going shopping, your body is exerting energy and moving nutrients to keep you going strong, and you need to continually replenish fluids lost throughout the day. Simply having water readily available to you makes you more inclined to drink it, not to mention some of the new water bottles on the market make drinking fun (and even stylish).
If you don’t like the flavorless taste, give your water a pick me up.
Slice up some fruit and add it to your prepared water bottles to soak overnight! Some tried and true combinations: watermelon and fresh mint, rosemary and grapefruit, lemons and cucumber, strawberry and lime, kiwi or any combination of your favorite fresh fruits!
Use technology to keep your hydration on track.
Get your smartphone or smart watch in on the water game. Apps like Plant Nanny, iDrated, and Waterlogged make it impossible to forget to drink throughout the day. Water drinking applications allow you to set reminder notifications every few hours and keep track of the volume of water you’re drinking per day. Plant Nanny rewards you for recording your intake – each time you drink, a young plant drinks, too! Your plant levels up over a few days, at which time you have the option of moving it to your garden to plant another seedling. iDrated allows you to set your daily goal, view hydration status and water drank, and look back on your success over past weeks. The app even grants medals for achieving certain levels of hydration. For the no-nonsense drinker, Waterlogged has a more straightforward approach, portraying a bottle’s silhouette which slowly fills as ounces or litres are added. The goal and status of water drank are shown on the app’s home screen.
Eat your water.
If you have a hard time drinking water, there are tasty ways around it. Incorporating more fruits into your diet is the quickest way to increase water intake without knocking back countless glasses of H20. BONUS: Fruits also come packed with vitamins and minerals necessary for proper cellular functioning. Water helps transport those minerals throughout the body, but they need replenishing daily through the foods we eat. There are all kinds of ways to incorporate more fruit into one’s diet, like blending smoothies, adding fruit to salads, dipping slices in peanut butter or hummus and keeping snack baggies with you for bursts of energy throughout the day.
To boost your immune system and hydrate, consider snacking on vitamin C rich watermelon and oranges – both in season in during the steamy summer months. Kiwi also comes loaded with the vitamin; however, it isn’t in season in the United States until late September.
Instead of draining a dehydrating Gatorade or Powerade, consider grabbing some cantaloupe, peaches, or strawberries to simultaneously hydrate and replace lost electrolytes. Fruits can restock electrolytes and water as easily as Gatorade, so why do more people prefer to reach for their favorite neon-colored drink? Sports drinks are loaded withsugar and salt, which induce our bodies to drink more. No matter how many sports drinks you down, they’re never going to quench your thirst quite like a tall glass of water.
Other in-season fruits to add color to your summer hydration mixture include tomatoes, nectarines, blackberries, grapes, cherries, plums, bell pepper, and cucumbers.
Pinch yourself (I’m not kidding,) and know the signs and symptoms of dehydration.
The ability for the skin to return to its natural, fluid-filled state after being pinched between the fingers for a few seconds is a great indicator of whether you might be dehydrated. Try it yourself: Take the skin on the back of your hand between thumb and forefinger and pinch it up for a second or two. The quickness of the skin’s return to normal marks the level of dehydration. If the pinched section doesn’t return instantly to its natural location on your hand, there’s a chance you might be dehydrated. This is a quick diagnostic you can perform throughout the day, whether you’re mowing the lawn, at a music festival or at your desk at work.
It is also beneficial to know when you absolutely need to drink water, if you’re not constantly spotted carrying a Camelbak or Nalgene. A down and dirty way to know if you’re mildly dehydrated: thirst. If you’re thirsty, there is no doubt you need some fluids, and not a Coke or tea, as these can only exacerbate the situation.
One of the most pertinent symptoms of moderate dehydration is a headache accompanied with feelings of tiredness and sometimes dizziness. Constipation is another symptom of mild dehydration. If the dehydration worsens, symptoms can also become psychological, leading to delirium and possible unconsciousness. A person experiencing the symptoms of severe dehydration needs to get to a hospital quickly. Decreased urine output, along with dark coloration and strong smell, is another indication that a person needs to be taken to the emergency room for immediate care.
If you’ve been working or playing in the sun and heat for a period of time and develop any of the symptoms or signs listed above, do your body a huge favor, and go inside for a time. Reward yourself with a bottle of water and some air conditioning. Risking overheating and severe dehydration are not worth it, and I promise, the outdoors will still be there when you’re back at 100%. However, it’s better not to let lack of hydration get you down, so step up your game with the tips listed above, and be sure to look out for others that might need help leveling up their hydration, as well.