Summer is here and the mercury is rising. The warmer weather means more time outside for barbecues, park hopping and hitting the beach. However, it also means an added risk of overexposure to the sun as well as dehydration. Since our bodies are made up of around 60% water, keeping you and your family well hydrated is crucial as we head into the warmest months of the year. To help you stay informed this season, we put together a list of common hydration myths and have debunked them below.
Being thirsty is the best indicator of dehydration
Dehydration is not life-threatening
Doctors recommend drinking eight glasses of water a day
You should be careful about overhydrating
Drinking plain water is the only way to replenish fluids
This is not true. In fact, being thirsty indicates that you are already dehydrated, according to the American Heart Association. The best way to truly know if you need to increase your fluid intake is to check the color of your urine. If it is clear or pale yellow it means your body is hydrated, however darker coloration means you need to drink more fluids.
This myth is particularly dangerous since dehydration is a serious medical condition that can cause seizures, kidney failure and can even result in death. Children most frequently experience dehydration because of their small body size and because they often cannot communicate their level of thirst. Also, the body’s ability to conserve water and sense thirst goes down with age, so older adults are particularly vulnerable to dehydration as well.
Currently, there is no medical consensus on how much water you should drink per day as the amount can vary based on age, gender and lifestyle. However, the Institute of Medicine recommends that women take in at least nine cups of total fluids a day, while men should have at least 13 cups.
If you have an active lifestyle, you will need to take in an additional 12-20 ounces of fluids for moderate activity lasting under an hour. For more intensive, extended exercise, experts recommend replenishing fluids at a rate of 16 ounces for every pound of water you lose.
Overhydration is a condition called hyponatremia, but it is uncommon for most people. Those most at risk include endurance runners and others involved in vigorous, long-term exercise. Overhydration occurs when water dilutes vital sodium and electrolyte levels in the body and can be mitigated by drinking sports drinks in place of water. However, for most people engaging in shorter, more moderate levels of exercise, plain old H20 will fit the bill for hydration needs.
Water is the best way to replenish fluids on hot days or if you are exercising for less than an hour, but it certainly doesn’t have to be plain. Fruit-infused water can be a refreshing way to beat the summer heat and keep your family hydrated. The Cleveland Clinic recently rated fruit infusions as the healthiest way to add a little sweetness to food and drinks, and infused water can be a great way to get the picky little ones to drink more fluids.
If you enjoyed this article be sure to check out our related article 6 Tips for a Healthy Summer