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How to stay hydrated in summer

Girl playing with a sprinkler
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The human body is over 60% water, so it’s important we drink enough fluid to keep this balance. With summer approaching, we’re looking at ways to stay hydrated on the hottest of days. 

The importance of staying hydrated 

Water is important for many processes within the body, from our blood carrying oxygen to our cells to our kidneys and their waste-removal functions. It also helps to lubricate our joints and eyes and helps our digestive system to function, as well as keeping our skin healthy. 

How much fluid do I need? 

It can be hard to know if you’re drinking enough water or fluids throughout the day. Waiting until you feel thirsty can often be too late, as by the time we feel thirsty, we are already dehydrated. The NHS advises that we should be drinking 6-8 glasses of liquid each day and that water, low-fat milk, sugar free drinks, tea and coffee all count. But remember, the amount of fluid we need can vary depending on different factors such as levels of physical activity or the climate. 

Signs of dehydration

Dehydration happens when our bodies lose more fluid that we take in. When we have less water than normal it can upset the balance of minerals in the body and the way that it functions. 

According to the NHS some of the warning signs of dehydration are: 

  • Feeling thirsty 
  • Feeling lightheaded 
  • A dry mouth 
  • Tiredness 
  • Having dark coloured urine 
  • Needing to go to the toilet less often than normal 

And signs a baby might be dehydrated are: 

  • Having a sunken soft spot 
  • Little or no tears when they cry 
  • Fewer wet nappies than normal 
  • They’re drowsy 

If you’re dehydrated drink plenty of fluids. The NHS recommends water, diluted squash or fruit juice as they’re more effective than tea or coffee. Be aware of fizzy drinks too as they may contain more sugar than you need. If you’re sick and struggling to keep water down, take lots of small sips regularly. 

Hydration in the heat 

Our bodies are designed to regulate our body temperature in hot conditions by sweating. This cools the body and helps us to maintain a regular temperature. The more we sweat due to hot weather, the more we need to replace by drinking more fluid. To stay hydrated on a hot day simply drink more water than you usually would, increasing your intake further if you notice any of the above signs of dehydration. 

Healthy ways to stay hydrated 

Water is the healthiest way to stay hydrated, and it’s also cheap as it’s safe to drink from the tap in the UK. Water contains 0 calories or teeth-damaging sugars. If you prefer a hot drink, plain tea without sugar, fruit teas or coffee are also options. Some people don’t like the taste of plain water, you can always mix it up by adding a slice of lemon or opting for sparkling water. 

You should avoid fizzy drinks or juices as they can contain lots of added sugar and little nutrients. 

Keep a water bottle close by when you’re out and about and regularly top up your fluid levels. The USN 1 litre water jug is a good way of keeping track of how much you’re drinking, fill it up in the morning and take it with you to work, the gym or whatever the day holds. 

References

www.nhsinform.scot/campaigns/hydration
www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/water-drinks-nutrition/
www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/nutritional/dehydration
www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/water-drinks-nutrition/