By Suzanne Kvilhaug
One of the most important things when it comes to your overall health during the summer months is proper hydration. Sort of like location, location, location, it’s all about hydration, hydration, hydration.
The popular and somewhat dreaded questions on many people’s minds are ones like, am I drinking enough water? How do I know how much water to drink? Is it possible to over hydrate? Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer as everybody’s hydration needs and bodies are completely different. However, guidelines, common sense and listening to your body can help you stay in the safety zone and keep you optimally hydrated. When it comes to physical activity and hydration, it is based on the individual and their level of exertion. From how much you sweat to many other health factors make it impossible to tell you exactly how much you need and when.
One of the easiest ways to tell if you are properly hydrated is looking at your urine. The clearer the urine, the more hydrated you are. One of the best and easiest indicators to detect dehydration is urine that is a dark yellow. Unfortunately thirst is not always the best indicator that you need to drink more fluids, if you are thirsty, it can mean you are already dehydrated. Other signs to look for that can signal dehydration are: dry mouth, fatigue, chills and dizziness. Believe it or not, drinking too much water can be dangerous as well, so it is important to always check in with your body and see how you feel. Too much fluids in your body can cause hyponatremia, which is a condition resulting from over hydration that depletes essential minerals from your body. Symptoms of hypnoatremia include bloating, a feeling of fullness in your stomach, nausea, incoherence and disorientation.
One of the best tips besides drink water when you are thirsty is to be mindful of eating fruits and vegetables, as they are water-based foods that are filled with vitamins and nutrients. Approximately 20% of our water intake is obtained through food. Since many fruits and vegetables contain as much as 90% or more water, it’s ideal to incorporate a lot into your diet during the summer. Fruits with a very high water content include watermelon, strawberries, grapefruit, cantaloupe, peaches, pineapple, raspberries, oranges and blueberries. Keep these on hand and increase your intake during active times.
Many researchers advise simply drinking when you are thirsty but not everyone has developed a strong mind-body connection. If you intuitively are not able to know how much hydration is the right amount, this method won’t work. Staying hydrated is vital to your health and if you are an athlete, your performance. Everyone differs, but becoming aware of how you feel when you are dehydrated is key to learning how much water you need to drink. Start to track how much water you are drinking. On those days where you feel well hydrated, note how much water you have been consuming. If you are exercising or running long distances, it’s even more important to really focus on your hydration levels. Not only is it necessary to hydrate properly the day of working out, but the days prior too. On those days where you feel dehydrated, it’s likely that you have not had enough to drink that day or the previous days. This will be one of the ways to help you learn the levels of fluid your body needs to stay strong, healthy and hydrated.
During the summer months, keeping electrolyte levels optimal goes hand and hand with hydration. Electrolytes are minerals that can be lost through sweat during heavy exercise. A major myth regarding traditional sports drinks is that they are the only way to get the electrolytes you need. BudiBars with chia seeds are an excellent snack when it comes to hydration and electrolytes. Because chia seeds absorb thirty times their weight in water, they help regulate body fluid levels and retain electrolytes, both key in the battle against dehydration. For long workouts in high heat and humidity, chia seeds are a great way to prolong hydration. Coconut water, watermelon, cucumbers, oranges, bananas, strawberries and mangoes all contain electrolytes and are great choices as well. Consider drinking fresh pressed juice with those ingredients or having coconut water in addition to regular water to ensure you are replacing lost electrolytes.
Being properly hydrated means feeling strong, healthy, and functioning at your best level. Drink enough water, sip on fresh pressed juice, snack on BudiBars, eat fruits and veggies and pay attention to how your body feels! Making proper hydration a priority can be the key to feeling well from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed.