Water is the most necessary yet the most underrated nutrient. Water is important for the proper functioning of biochemical reactions in our body (it acts as a solvent), maintaining body temperature, circulation of blood in our body, etc. it is essential for life and the summer months are very hard on our body hydration wise! Sometimes it is even difficult to realise the rate at which we lose water, too much water loss (dehydration) can lead to a heat stroke. Daily water intake must match up with the amount lost, if you are feeling thirsty you have already lost some water. Here are some tips to keep yourself hydrated and active during the gruelling summer months.
It is universally known how essential water is but we tend to forget to drink enough water. Always remember that you have to consume three to four litres of water every day. There are many methods to keep yourself hydrated. Water tracker apps on mobile phones are good for reminders to drink water at assigned times. You can flavour your water by soaking cucumbers, berries, melons, mint leaves or melons in your water container for a long time. Tasty infused water will inspire you to drink more. Always carry a water bottle with you when you travel. Keep a water bottle at places you frequent so that whenever you see the bottle you immediately take a sip. Track how much you drink, it is suggested that you fill up all the bottles you aim to finish in a day and keep tracking all day. Do not wait for your throat to go parched before you drink water, keep sipping a little water at all times. If you go for strenuous physical exercise keep chewing gum so that the saliva produced keeps you hydrated, and also take frequent water breaks.
Certain fruits and vegetables are loaded with water. Eat at least five different fruits and four servings of vegetables to stay hydrated. Not only are greens hydrating but they also contain essential electrolytes. Watermelons, melons, berries, peaches, papayas, leafy greens, cucumbers, radishes, cantaloupe, strawberries, lettuce, celery, kale, zucchini, oranges, grapefruits, tomatoes, capsicums, grapes, bananas, etc, are all good options. Always carry a few fruits with you when you’re on the go.
If you work out, go for long walks or have a job which involves a lot of physical labour then you must invest in electrolytes. You can get electrolytes from solid food or liquids. There are special sports drinks which have all the electrolytes pre-mixed such as sodium, chlorine and potassium. Bananas and coconut water also have a lot of electrolytes, these are rich in potassium too. There are many powders (glucose) available in the market which you can carry with you and mix in with water whenever required to make an electrolyte drink. For severe dehydration, there are ORS (Oral Rehydration Formula) solutions available which follow the WHO formula.
There are a plethora of low sugar cold beverage options in case you get bored with water. Most fruits and vegetables can be made into smoothies. Not only are they hydrating, but they are also filling and loaded with electrolytes to prevent dehydration. You can always invest in sugarless cold coffee, ice tea, lemonade, cold-pressed fruit juice, buttermilk, fermented milk (laban), sugarcane juice and cold chocolate milk. Tea is a better option than coffee because it has less concentration of caffeine. Ice tea has many variations, fruit and scented teas are interesting, you can also opt for oolong or match. You will never run out of options when it comes to cold beverages, keep experimenting and find out what works best for you. Incorporate at least five or six of these beverages in your daily routine.
Urine is an excellent indicator of how well hydrated you are. If your urine is a pale yellow to clear in colour, then it indicates that you are well hydrated. If your urine is dark yellow to brownish in colour it means you are dehydrated and your body is craving water. If you are someone who has the habit of forgetting to drink enough water then make it a habit to observe your urine throughout the day. In very rare cases of severe dehydration the urine might burn a little, this might be caused solely due to dehydration or might be the sign of an underlying condition. Make sure to visit the doctor if this happens even after drinking plenty of water.
The rule of thumb is to avoid overly processed and sugar-rich food products. Deep-fried snacks and highly processed food contains a lot of sodium and complex carbohydrates which tend to suck the water out of your body. One should also avoid a lot of alcohol, smoking and carbonated drinks. You might have noticed that whenever you eat deep-fried snacks you keep feeling thirsty. It is because they take longer and more water to digest. Even though sodium is an important electrolyte and is important for hydration; too much of it can cause the opposite effect.