Staying hydrated in the summer heat

By Jenni Wolf

With the warmest, muggiest days of summer still on the way, now is a good time to talk about hydration.

Don’t get me wrong, hydration is important to monitor year-round. But we see an uptick in dehydration symptoms during the warmer, summer months.

Here’s what you need to know to stay hydrated and keep feeling your best:

Water makes up an average of 60% of our body weight, meaning we need a lot of it. But just how much?

Water is found in both fluids and foods, meaning both eating and drinking helps us to meet our needs each day. On average, we get about 20% of our water needs met by eating a wide variety of foods, leaving 80% of our needs to be met by fluids.

This works out to be about, nine 8-ounce cups of fluids for adult women and 13 cups for adult men. Larger bodies, need more fluid; kids and smaller bodies need less.

What about caffeinated fluids? I heard those are dehydrating.

Too much caffeine – we are talking about the equivalent of 3 or more cups of strong brewed coffee- may increase urine production, but only in the short-term, and has not been shown to lead to significant dehydration. So, counting beverages like tea, coffee, and caffeinated soda towards your water needs for the day is A-Okay.

How can I tell if I am getting enough water? What are some signs of dehydration?

The best way to track your fluid intake is to notice your urine color. Urine should be similar in color to lemonade in individuals that are adequately hydrated and will be darker in color, like Mountain-Dew or orange juice, in those that are dehydrated.

Note: some medications and supplements can also affect urine color. Other signs of dehydration include headache, fatigue, dizziness, and confusion.

It is important to continually assess for signs of dehydration, especially when participating in sports or other activities where sweat rates may be increased, when spending time in a more humid or high-altitude environment or when pregnant or breastfeeding, as fluid needs are all greater than average in these situations.

What are some ways to increase fluid intake?

  • Carry a water bottle with you when you leave the house. Getting in a few sips while you run errands or shuttle around the kids will help add up to meet your daily goal.
  • Stick in a straw. You are likely to take in more volume per sip through a straw compared to just taking a glug from the glass or bottle.
  • Try using an app to track water intake.This can be a fun way to be intentional about hydrating. Some apps will even give you a reminder to get drinking!
  • Serve a beverage with every meal.
  • Keep a full glass of water on your nightstand and drink it right away when you wake up.
  • Take advantage of fresh summer produce. Did you know fruits like melons and berries are more than 90% water?
  • Add flavor enhancers like fresh citrus slices and herbs to water or mix beverages together (sparkling water + OJ is super refreshing) to keep things interesting!

Jenni Wolf, a registered dietitian, writes about food and nutrition for the Bugle.

Water consumption guide

AgeDaily Adequate Intake (1 cup = 8 fluid ounces)
1-3 years4 cups
4-8 years5 cups
9-13 years7-8 cups
14-18 years8-11 cups
men, 19+ years13 cups
women, 19+ years9 cups
pregnant women10 cups
breastfeeding women13 cups

Table source: National Academy of Medicine

Sources: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; The National Academy of Medicine; The Mayo Clinic

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