How to stay hydrated and healthy this summer?

8 min


With the summer months around the corner, as always we can expect very hot weather. India is a tropical country. Summers are always hard on us especially in the South of India. Therefore, to beat weather like this, it’s important to stay hydrated.

The term, ‘hydration’ means having the required amount of water in the body at any given point of time. Hydration or staying hydrated is an important aspect in day to day life. Firstly, water roughly constitutes 75% of the body. This is almost 2/3rd of the total body. It’s the fuel that powers the body systems. The body requires water for almost all activities. From very small and simple reactions to the most complex of enzymatic actions.

COMPOSITION OF WATER:

Water is a very basic molecule. Further, the molecular formula for water is H2O. It contains 2 atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen. Water is found inside and between cells, within the blood vessels.

RECOMMENDED INTAKE OF WATER:

On an average,

  • Adult men – 3.7 litres per day
  • Adult women – 2.7 litres per day
  • Pregnant and lactating women- 3 to 3.7 litres per day.

SYMPTOMS OF DEHYDRATION:

Dehydration is a state, where the body does not have enough water to carry out the normal functions. It is when the body uses or loses more water than your normal intake. This is the first and the most common indication of excess loss of water from your body.

REASONS FOR DEHYDRATION:

It varies from very simple reasons to complex ones,

  • We tend to consume less water when we’re sick, busy or when there is a lack of safe water
  • Activities like travelling, hiking, camping etc. significantly reduce water intake
  • Conditions like acute diarrhoea, fever and severe vomiting may cause excessive loss of water and electrolytes in the body. Loss of water is even more when these conditions co-exist
  • Sweating is one of the main factors. Excessive sweating may cause loss of water especially when there is hot and humid weather outside. Apart from that rigorous physical activity, gyming etc. can cause lots of sweat breakouts. If we do not replace this output of water with fluids, we can go into a state of dehydration.
  • Excess urination: Like sweat, urination is also a form of water output. Cases, where excess urination is common, includes condition like uncontrolled diabetes. People with uncontrolled and undiagnosed diabetes tend to urinate more than a normal person.
  • Likewise, people on medications like diuretics and blood pressure medication can have excess urination. These medications generally can cause excess urination.

The normal symptoms of dehydration include,

THIRSTINESS:

Thirstiness is the most common symptom of dehydration. It is the first thing that indicates that the body requires water immediately. The reason behind feeling thirsty is due to the changes in the balance of the osmolyte and the change in the concentration of sodium in the body.

URINE OUTPUT:

Checking the urinary output (both the quantity and quality) is very essential for checking out dehydration. For instance, the quantity of urine output is usually reduced and the colour is usually darker shades of yellow. The urine also tends to be more concentrated. On the other hand, the healthy urine output is transparent and water-like.

CHECK OUT THESE SIGNS:

Oftentimes we may observe the following in dehydrated people. For instance, they might be confused, lethargic, have mood swings, lightheadedness, feeling cranky, experience overheating and sometimes constipation is also common.

On the other hand, symptoms like dry mouth, eyes and less sweating with muscle cramps might occur. Nausea, vomiting heart palpitations, headaches are common.

The skin might feel cold and clammy. This is because in dehydration the body tries to regulate the amount of blood flow and re-directs the blood to some of the vital internal organs like the lungs, heart etc. This may reduce blood flow to the skin. This coping mechanism might fail as the level of dehydration increases.

In severe cases, if the dehydration is frequent and undiagnosed, even organ failure, coma and death can occur.

DIAGNOSING DEHYDRATION:

Your doctor can easily diagnose dehydration with your physical symptoms and based on your blood pressure levels. The blood pressure is usually reduced in case of dehydration. Other tests may include,

  • Routine blood test for measuring electrolytes, the sodium-potassium levels and the health of your kidneys
  • Urinalysis is done to confirm dehydration, the degree of dehydration can be assessed and any bladder infection can be caught at the earliest.

TREATING DEHYDRATION BY STAYING HYDRATED:

Dehydration is best treated based on the age, cause and severity of the condition of the dehydrated person.

  • The best treatment is to replace the lost fluids and electrolytes properly.
  • Oral rehydration solutions are rich in water and salts in specific proportions that can replenish both the fluids and electrolytes. Both adults and children can take them safely.
  • People who are severely dehydrated should be rushed to the hospital. They might be given intra-venous salt and fluid solution since it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream compared to the oral route of intake.

WATER AS AN ESSENTIAL PART OF WEIGHT LOSS:

Firstly, we have always heard our doctors and dieticians tell us to take more water in a day than we usually do when it comes to weight loss. Ever wondered why? Yes, let us understand that.

Water is a zero-calorie food. To clarify, water almost contains nil calories. Therefore, whenever you feel like grabbing that can of soda or soft drink you love consider replacing that with a glass of water. In this way, by avoiding that 10 oz can of beverage you chuck out 120 calories approximately. Isn’t that wonderful?

WATER AND CARDIAC HEALTH:

Water is great for your overall health. Moreover, consuming the right amount of water and keeping yourself hydrated is very essential for your heart. The heart normally pumps 2000 gallons of blood in a day. Remaining hydrated will help the heart to do its job unhindered. In addition, staying hydrated makes the muscles function properly and cushions the joints well and thus maintain a healthy organ system.

HOW TO LOVE WATER AND IMPROVE INTAKE (MAINTAINING HYDRATION):

Though water is very essential it is not the most loved drink. Many of us tend to forget to consume it regularly. Here are some tips that might help you convince yourself to drink more water and thereby keep yourself healthy and hydrated.

KEEPING WATER WITHIN YOUR REACH:

Start by filling up small bottles of water. Keep them everywhere within your reach. For instance, keeping water bottles at your end table might help you consume water properly in the morning and night while in bed. Use them in kitchens, dining etc. This is to overcome the laziness of filling up every time you feel thirsty.

ADD FLAVOUR TO THE WATER:

Many people do not like the taste of water since it is bland. This could be overcome by using small wedges of lemon in your glass or bottle. We can also add mint, ginger, cucumber, pudhina etc. This improves the flavour and gives a feeling of freshness.

NEW AND FANCY BOTTLES:

For all those shopaholics and creative people out there. We can always make drinking water more pleasurable by filling them up in fancy, small bottles. This works out well, especially for kids. This might also form a basis for building a healthy habit.

BUILDING HABITS TO ALWAYS REMAIN HYDRATED:

This is basically very simple. Firstly, associate drinking water with a specific activity you regularly perform on a day to day basis. For instance, drinking a glass of water every time you use the restroom. That way you remember to regularly consume water at frequent breaks. Associating new habits with a regular activity you perform, makes you catch up with it easily and makes it last longer. Remember, it takes 21 days to build a habit and 90 days to build a lifestyle.

CARRY BOTTLES EVERYWHERE:

Carry empty bottles in your bag. Fill these bottles at the place you work, or your schools, colleges etc. Try to finish this up before you reach home. This way you consume the needed amount of water and carry an empty bottle back home thus reducing weight. It also provides the comfort of using your own bottle and has a good hygiene factor.

MONITORING WATER INTAKE:

There are a lot of apps available to monitor your regular water intake. These apps provide you with the advantage of setting reminders and alerts at frequent intervals to save you from dehydration. Some people might not like technological support. These folks can always tally and calculate the amount of water intake

USING SUBSTITUTES:

You can also take water in other forms like juices, smoothies, fruits rich in water like watermelons, cucumber etc.

USING RESTROOM ADEQUATELY:

Many people avoid taking water mainly due to the fear of the unavailability of restrooms. Always remember this excuse does more harm than good. Consume the required amount of water and use the restroom facilities available in the nearest vicinity. Never leave home, office etc. without using the restroom. Nothing should come in the way of staying hydrated

OPEN GLASSES TO STAY HYDRATED:

You may try this if you face a difficulty with some of the above tips. Drink a glass of water and refill it immediately. Leave the glass open for a while. Chances are that you may consume that glass of water immediately due to the fear of something falling into it.

These are some very simple tricks you can follow to make yourself stay hydrated. All the above steps are easy and a great way to save you from dehydration. Remember staying hydrated can save you from an array of summer diseases.

Follow all these steps and have a happy and a healthy summer. Beat the heat with water.


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Dr Kavitha M

I am an undergraduate degree holder in dentistry. I have a great interest in music and reading. I am a linguaphile. My areas of interest lie in psychology, medical imaging, diagnostics, and oncology. I am a person who focuses more on the emerging areas of forensics.

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