Beyond Thirst: How to Stay Hydrated this Summer
School is out, and summertime is officially here. An often overlooked aspect of summer heat is proper hydration. Although we’ve all heard “stay hydrated,” it’s essential to understand what that term means to our bodies.
Did you know that thirst is a sign that our body is already dehydrated? Every cell in our body depends on water for survival and optimal performance. When we are well-hydrated, our brain processes information more seamlessly, and our sleep quality improves alongside our overall mood. Preventing dehydration can’t be underestimated. Our ability to regulate our body temperature, especially during hot summers when we’re outdoors more often, depends on enough water intake with the proper minerals.
Water alone isn’t enough for proper hydration. Minerals called electrolytes are necessary to maintain the correct amount of water in your body, balance your body’s pH levels, carry nutrients throughout your cells, and move waste out of your cells. Electrolytes are sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, chloride, and phosphate. Embedded in your organic material, electrolytes carry an electric charge that maintains a healthy balance throughout your body. For example, your muscles contract via an electric charge. Among the top three essential electrolytes are sodium, magnesium, and potassium, which work hand-in-hand to create the balance our body is after.
Perception vs. Reality
There is a general rule of thumb about drinking eight glasses of water per day. It sounds like a reasonable goal and relatively easy to remember. Although this is a public perception, the total fluid intake depends on replenishment. No formula fits everyone. We all have different activity levels that determine the number of fluid ounces we lose through exhaling, sweating, and eliminating waste.
Rather than meticulously monitoring how many ounces of fluid you’re taking in, pay closer attention to how thirsty you are throughout the day. Try to consume enough fluids to prevent the thirst sensation regularly. Another key determiner is the color of your urine. A colorless or light yellow urine color is a sign of healthy hydration.
Don’t forget to eat your hydration. Many fresh foods are packed with nutrients, electrolytes, and high water content. Although many foods assist with healthy hydration levels, here are a few that will give you a great return on your investment and can be more appealing to our children with a selective pallet:
- Cucumbers are a great potato chip replacement packed with nutrients and electrolytes. They contain vitamins K, B, and C alongside potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, and copper.
- Watermelon satisfies a sweet tooth while charging up the body’s minerals. One cup of watermelon contains Vitamins A, C, and B6 and about 170 milligrams of potassium.
- Apples are a low preparation, high flavor treat that many children love. They contain satisfactory amounts of vitamin C and potassium alongside other plant compounds like quercetin and catechin.
In today’s fast-paced day and age, many people want to “grab and go.” Fresh foods often need some preparation, and it’s easy to get roped into unhealthy products with electrolytes. Beware of the sugar content of these products! The US Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020 - 2025 recommends a sugar limit of about 50 grams for a 2,000 calorie/day diet. Many electrolyte-driven drinks on the market today contain upwards of 30+ grams of sugar per drink.
A healthy alternative is adding the proper amount of minerals to your water. Quality electrolyte drink mixes will boost your mineral intake and flavor your water. First thing in the morning, on an empty stomach, and 30 minutes before a workout or playing on the playground are the best times to drink electrolyte-rich water.
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