Herbfacts
A glass of water

Staying hydrated: top tips this summer

Staying hydrated is vital especially at this time of year in the hot weather when we tend to be more active outdoors. 

Editor Jane Garton suggests some quick ways to keep your fluid levels topped up.

Our bodies are between 50% and 70% water which is essential for various bodily functions.

A diagram showing how water is used in hte body

Water is essential for many systems in the body including:

  • To carry nutrients to our organs
  • To carry waste products away
  • To help regulate body temperature
  • To lubricate our joints
  • To keep our brains on the ball

Even a small shortfall can lead to a drop in mood and foggy brain. Meanwhile, persistently not drinking enough can lead to kidney stones and other health problems.

So how much do we need to drink a day for good health and wellbeing? As a rough rule of thumb, adults should aim for between 1.5 – 2 litres of fluid per day.  Read on for best ways to keep your levels topped up.

Plain water

A jug of water with fresh fruit in

Whether tap, bottled, still or sparkling plain water is the best way to stay hydrated. And the good thing is it contains no calories or sugar. Find plain water boring?  Add some zing with slivers of lemon or lime, cucumber, borage flowers, sliced ginger, lemon grass or even strawberries.

Hydrating foods

Watermelon

Most fruits and vegetables are hydrating, especially melons and cucumbers: both contain over 90 per cent water, making them a healthy way to add fluid to your diet on hot summer days. Lettuce, celery, and strawberries are other good options.

Soups such as gazpacho, smoothies and juices are another way to up your fluid intake at this time of year. Go for readymade smoothies and juices (watch out for added sugar content though) or even better experiment with making your own. They’re a great way to use up fruit and veg that may be past their best. Cucumber, kale, avocadoes as well as pears, apples and berries are all good options.

Drink regularly

A water bottle with measures on

Drinking little and often is better than downing half a litre in one go. If you’re out and about, always carry a water bottle with you, keep one on your desk and don’t forget that glass beside the bed.

Find it difficult to keep track on your fluid intake? Set a timer on your phone or use an app such as Fitbit to remind you to drink. Time-marked water bottles can help keep you on track too.

Increase fluid intake during hot weather and exercise

A woman drinking water after exercising

Hot weather and being more active outdoors can mean you sweat more and, in the process, loose fluid. So, topping up your fluid intake regularly becomes even more important when it’s hot or you are exercising.

Watch your alcohol

A glass of wine and a glass of water on a table

Alcohol is a diuretic and drinks with a high proportion of alcohol such as spirits will increase your fluid loss.  If you don’t replace this by drinking more water, you will soon become dehydrated. Try to keep within government recommended levels of 14 units a week and alternate alcoholic drinks with a glass of water. 14 units a week is the equivalent of:

  • 7 medium-sized glasses of wine (175ml – ABV 12%)
  • 7 pints of lower strength lager/beer/cider (ABV 3.6%)

How can I tell if I am dehydrated?

A urine colour chart

The best way is to check your urine. Pale to light yellow is normal, while dark is a sign of dehydration. Interestingly, feeling thirsty is often a sign that you are already mildly dehydrated, so regular fluid intake is key.

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