Did you know that more than half of your body is water? The average adult’s body is up to 60% water! Water is, of course, essential to life on Earth. In the human body, water performs a variety of amazing and critical functions:
- It helps blood circulate better, reducing blood pressure and stress on the heart.
- Water helps our bodies eliminate waste and toxins through sweat and urination.
- It helps regulate our body temperature.
- Water is critical to our immune system.
- Because our brains are almost 75% water, it’s important to sleep quality, cognition and mood.
It’s easy to see why staying hydrated is so important! But a recent study showed that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. We just don’t drink enough water and too many of the beverages we do consume are high in sugar, doing as much harm as good.
The human body can go three weeks without food and survive, but only three days without water. At only 3% dehydration, your body will begin to feel fatigued. Even mild dehydration can lead to dizziness, headaches, heart palpitations, kidney stones, constipation, muscle cramps and other health problems. Severe dehydration can cause heart attacks and worse. If you’re over 50, overweight or have certain health issues like kidney problems or take diuretic medications, dehydration is an even greater health risk.
In the heat of summer, especially if you’re active outside, it’s even more necessary to get enough fluids. It makes sense that getting dehydrated is easier when you’re sweating or even just hotter than normal. Just sitting in the sun can cause your body to require more fluids, even if you’re not active or sweating heavily.
How much water do you need?
The National Acadamies of Medicine says that women need about 11 cups of water each day and men need about 16 cups each day. That sounds like a lot, but it can come from a variety of sources.
So how to stay hydrated?
First and most obviously, drink lots of water! You know you’re drinking enough or not by how you feel and the color of your urine. If your urine is dark, you need more water. It’s also important to note that if you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Some people find it easier to drink their recommended amount of water by investing in a large bottle with markings that help them keep track. Most fitness apps also have water tracking options.
If you have a hard time drinking plain water, flavor it up! Add a squeeze of lemon, a few leaves of mint, some berries or a couple of cucumber slices for a refreshing sugar-free treat. It’s easy to find an infusion water bottle or pitcher that lets you “steep” fresh fruit and herbs in your water so it’s ready when you are. Be careful with water additive drops or mixes as most are loaded with artificial sweeteners, colors and flavors.
If you’re having a summer picnic or cookout, make sure to include lots of foods that are high in water. Iceberg lettuce, grapes, cantaloupe, citrus fruits, cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon and strawberries are all high in water. Making these healthy foods part of your menu offers a delicious way to help everyone stay hydrated.
Sports drinks and coconut water can be helpful, especially if you’ve been sweating a lot. Sports drinks replace the sodium and potassium that our bodies lose when we lose water. Coconut water does a great job at replenishing those vital electrolytes too. But both options can come with a lot of sugar, so check your labels. If you can’t get low-sugar or sugar-free versions, follow them with a glass of plain water.
Watch the alcohol when you’re outside in the heat. Alcohol is dehydrating and its effects are intensified by heat and sweating. If you’re enjoying adult beverages outside in the summer, make sure to pair each alcoholic drink with a glass of water. Lots of ice in those beverages can help too!
Be careful with caffeine. Caffeinated beverages such as coffee and tea will pull water from your body, making the risk of dehydration worse, especially in the summer heat.
And if you’re seriously dehydrated?
Sometimes, even the best efforts aren’t enough. If you’re already experiencing the symptoms of dehydration such as headache, muscle cramps, dizziness and nausea, an IV hydration treatment may be necessary to help restore your body’s necessary levels of water and other nutrients. Loaded with antioxidants, vitamins C and B, and electrolytes, IV nutrition goes straight into your bloodstream. Because it bypasses your digestive system, all those nutrients are able to be used to their fullest to restore your body and get you balanced again. It also, obviously, replenishes fluids directly into your bloodstream, where you need them the most.
If your fun in the sun has gone badly, we can help! Come to any of our Urgent Care 24/7 walk-in clinics at any time for IV nutrition therapy that will have you feeling better in no time.