Whether you’re an avid swimmer, aquatic exerciser, water sporter, or beach bum, staying hydrated in the summer heat is essential. With the high temperatures and humidity, it’s easy to break a sweat and to perspire more heavily than you’re used to. Even if you’re just relaxing in the sun. This creates a high risk of dehydration.
Dehydration occurs when you lose too much water and develop an electrolyte imbalance. Electrolytes are minerals—sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphate, and chlorine—that do things like help keep your body fluids and pH level in balance; keep your heart, brain, nerves, and muscles functioning correctly; deliver nutrients to your cells; and remove waste from your cells. So they’re pretty important.
In early stages, you’ll probably just lose your energy, get a headache, and start to feel a little sick to your stomach. This can ruin your workout or vacation, but the condition is potentially dangerous when left unchecked. Severe dehydration requires medical attention and intravenous fluids and electrolytes.
Fortunately, some basic awareness and taking simple steps for staying hydrated in the summer heat easily prevent dehydration, and help reduce the risk of heat stroke too. And, as an added bonus, staying well hydrated helps keep your skin and hair looking healthy, too.
How to Prevent Dehydration in the Summer
- Start well hydrated by drinking a tall glass of water before heading out to the water and into the sun
- Remember that you’re still sweating when you’re in the water, but you don’t notice it nearly as much as when you’re dry
- Take reusable (to be eco-friendly) water bottles with you to the pool, beach, cruise deck, or wherever else you go to enjoy the water; drink often!
- Squeeze some lemon, lime, orange, or other fruit juice into your water to add flavor as well as electrolytes; this is particularly useful if you tend not to drink much water because you find it boring
- Snack on fruits and veggies, which have a high water content to replace fluids, but which also supply electrolytes (water is important, but it’s not enough on it’s own because it doesn’t replenish electrolytes)
- Drink an electrolyte sports drink when you’ve been sweating heavily; keep in mind that most are high in sugar and contain artificial colors and flavors, so they’re not the healthiest choice
- Take occasional breaks to cool down in the air conditioning or shade if you’re out in the sun and heat for a prolonged period
- Skip or limit alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, as these are diuretics that increase the risk of dehydration
- Pay attention to your pee, which should be clear to pale yellow; if it’s dark, or if you’re urinating frequently in small amounts, you’re probably dehydrated
- Consider taking a probiotics supplement to promote gut health; this helps with nutrient absorption—including electrolyte minerals—and helps prevent digestive issues like diarrhea that make you more likely to become dehydrated
- Don’t forget your sun protection!