During these busy days of summer, it’s easy to neglect your daily water intake. While drinking a minimum of eight glasses a day is ideal for staying hydrated, many people simply don’t make it a priority.
“The body is composed of about 70 percent water, so drinking water is essential for proper metabolic functions,” says Ron Ledoux, certified clinical nutritionist and chiropractor.
Failing to drink enough water in a day can lead to dehydration and more significant health conditions if not kept in check.
Signs of dehydration
According to registered dietician Jennifer Markowitz, the symptoms of dehydration include fatigue, dizziness or feelings of lightheadedness, loss of appetite, increased thirst, dry mouth, less frequent urination and dark colored urine, headaches and muscle cramps.
While treating mild dehydration does not generally require the aid of a physician, there are more severe cases that might require medical attention.
“When (basic) symptoms are accompanied by vomiting, severe diarrhea, weight loss, fever, weakness, confusion or fainting, it is best to seek medical care,” Markowitz says.
Ledoux says that more advanced signs of dehydration can also include poor skin elasticity; the body may cease to sweat or you might experience dizziness, rapid heart rate or fever. If these symptoms are present, then you should seek medical assistance.
Ways to hydrate
While water is the most important resource to stay hydrated, other foods and beverages can help, too. In fact, drinking eight glasses of water each day is simply the minimum recommended intake.
“About 20 percent of fluid intake derives from food,” Markowitz says. “Soup, yogurt, fruits, vegetables, oatmeal and even coffee and tea contribute to daily water intake.”
Many fresh fruits and vegetables contain high concentrations of water: Oranges, melons, celery, tomatoes, zucchini and peppers can also be great hydration sources for the body.
Sports drinks can replenish lost electrolytes and help to rehydrate the body when consumed one hour after rigorous exercise, however, Markowitz advises caution.
“While alternatives like coconut water and sports drinks do help, as well, they don’t provide any extra benefit on a daily basis and can contribute to excessive caloric intake,” she says.
Dehydration is both preventable and treatable. With a bit of advanced planning and basic awareness and knowledge, you can keep your head above water.