Summer is upon us and the warm weather and sunshine is officially here. While you are enjoying the heat, don’t let dehydration get the best of you. Water is a crucial, and often neglected, nutrient. More than half of the human body is composed of water and every single cell in your body needs water to survive. Your body can last for some time without food, but not very long without water.
Water has many functions in the body. First and foremost, your body loses water through breathing, sweating and digestion. Rehydrating your body is crucial to help regulate body temperature, protect your tissues and joints, transport nutrients to your cells, eliminate waste and promote healthy digestion. If you are unsure about the amount of water you need each day, a good rule of thumb is to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water daily. For example, if you weigh 140lbs, you need around 70 ounces of water daily or approximately nine cups of water. The true best indicator of your hydration status however is the color of your urine. A darker color may indicate you are dehydrated, and a paler/lemonade color is optimal.
A huge hydration tip is to make sure that you drink water on a consistent basis to avoid reaching the point of thirst. Oftentimes, if you are feeling thirsty, chances are that you are already dehydrated. Focus on drinking water consistently throughout the day. Set a goal for how many cups you want to drink for the day, and then make a game plan for spreading that out for the whole day. If your goal is eight cups, try two cups first thing in the morning, two cups before lunch, two cups before you leave for work and two cups throughout the evening. Breaking your hydration up into small steps can make things seem more manageable and achievable.
Plus, if you are traveling this summer, low-humidity air on airplanes can lead to dehydration. Salt-laden airplane food can make matters even worse, so make a point to stay hydrated before, during and after your flight. While you are en-route, ask for a cup of water each time the flight attendant stops by with beverages. Try to minimize caffeine such as soda and coffee while on the plane, as caffeine tends to dehydrate the body. Alcohol, unfortunately, also has a dehydrating effect. Try packing an empty water bottle with you to fill up during your trip to ensure proper hydration.
Lastly, don’t forget about seasonal produce. Fruits and vegetables contain a ton of water and can help promote hydration, fullness and weight management. Some very water-rich produce items include melons, berries, bell peppers and grapes. By focusing on drinking water throughout the day and choosing more water-rich produce, your hydration will be optimal in no time.
Stefani Pappas, MS, RDN, CSO, CDN, CPT, is a Clinical Dietitian and Certified Personal Trainer. She also provides private nutrition counseling at her office in Great Neck. Visit her website www.stefhealthtips.com for more information or call 516-216-9909 to schedule an appointment.