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It’s HOT outside, Hydrate!

Hydration is important 365 days a year. Hot weather makes it harder since we need to consume more fluid to stay adequately hydrated.

Importance of Hydration. Hydration is important health and wellness for several reasons:

  • Regulation of Body Temperature.

  • Keeps joints lubricated.

  • Delivering nutrients to cells.

  • Keep organs functioning properly.

The best way to make sure you’re staying hydrated is to drink water throughout the day. For many, using a reusable water bottle helps improve hydration by having easy access to water. There are a number a water bottles on the market to choose from. From flip tops to straws, some have lines indicating how much water you should drink throughout the day, and even some that can send a notification to your phone to alert you to drink more water and track how much you drink in a day.

Here are some waterbottle options that may help you improve your intake of water in the day (Neither HealthyU Nutrition or our Registered Dietitian receive financial incentive for sharing these products):

Proper hydration can be achieved by doing more than just drinking water, though. Other ways to hydrate asides from drinking water:

1) All beverages will provide fluid/water for hydration. It’s important to consider the calorie and caffeine content of those beverages.

  • Limit high calorie beverages for overall health and wellness as most of the calories will come from sugar and/or fat. Over-consumption of high calorie beverages is a significant contributor to weight gain for many individuals.

  • Caffeinated beverages over 250-300 mg of Caffeine may act as a diuretic, though volume of fluid to consume 250-300 mg of caffeine may balance the diuretic effect. An 8-ounce cup of coffee has approximately 95 mg of caffeine. An 8-ounce cup of tea has between 25-50 mg, depending on the type of tea.

  • Alcohol is also a diuretic and will not contribute to hydration. The byproducts of alcohol metabolism in the liver causes a diuretic effect. If consuming alcohol, especially on a hot day, be sure to drink plenty of water and other non-alcoholic, beverages.

2) Many foods help with hydration, too. Broths and soups can be helpful, but Fruits and vegetables will contribute more to daily overall hydration than other foods. In addition to water, fruits and vegetables provide a source of electrolytes which are important for optimal hydrations, as well as vitamins, minerals and fiber.

  • High water fruits (approximate percentage water):

- Watermelon (92%)

- Strawberries (91%)

- Grapefruit (91%)

- Cantaloupe/Honeydew (90%)

- Peach & Nectarine (88%)

- Pear (88%)

- Blackberries (88%)

- Orange (87%)

- Plum (87%)

- Pineapple (87%)

- Apricot (86%)

- Apples (86%)

- Blueberries (84%)

- Cherries (82%)

  • High water Vegetables (approximate percentage of water)

- Cucumber (96%)

- Lettuce (96%)

- Celery (95%)

- Radishes (95%)

- Zucchini (95%)

- Tomatoes (94%)

- Bell Peppers (94%)

- Asparagus (93%)

- Portabella Mushrooms (93%)

- Cabbage (93%)

- Cauliflower (92%)

- Spinach (91%)

- Broccoli (89%)

Fortunately for those of us in the Pacific Northwest there are a lot of high-water fruits and vegetables in season during the spring and summer months to help stay hydrated and get electrolytes during the hot days.

Electrolytes are important for optimal hydration. Consuming only water in the day can cause an electrolyte imbalance if you sweat a lot from activity or being in a hot environment. If you’re only drinking plain water and don’t eat 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, you may benefit from supplementing some electrolytes if you’re active or working in hot environments.

Electrolytes have multiple functions in the human body. They are electrically charged minerals that the body requires for our cells, muscles (including the heart), and organs (including the nervous system) to work properly. An imbalance in electrolytes from over hydrating or being dehydrated can cause muscle weakness and cramping, headaches, confusion, irregular heartbeat, and, if severe enough, a heart attack.

The main electrolytes are sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Most Americans get an adequate amount of Sodium and Chloride in their diet in the form of salt. Dietary recommendations for sodium are 2300 mg per day, which is approximately 1 teaspoon of table salt. A vast majority of Americans consume well over the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of sodium on a regular basis.

On the other hand, Potassium and Magnesium are typically under-consumed in the American diet. The RDA for Potassium for adults is between 3800 – 4700 mg per day. In general, the best sources for potassium are whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, and meat. Green leafy vegetables, potatoes, bananas, tomatoes, avocado, soybeans, and Salmon are some of the highest potassium foods. The RDA of Magnesium for adults is 360 – 420 mg per day. Dietary sources of magnesium include nuts, beans, and whole grains.

Fortunately, the best way to get these important electrolytes through food are many of the same foods that are higher in fluid. If you don’t consume a mostly whole food diet, a daily supplement of electrolytes, except sodium and chloride, may be of benefit. A daily multivitamin and mineral that has magnesium and potassium will likely cover daily needs. Electrolyte supplements that can be added to water or “sports drinks” can also help you stay hydrated and get adequate electrolytes. Avoid supplements and drinks that are very high in sugar. Some carbohydrates do help with water absorption into our body’s cells, but drinks like Gatorade with 45 grams of sugar are only needed for individuals who are very active and need additional calories. There are several electrolyte drinks and water additives that are high in electrolytes but have little to no sugar.

How much water do we need in a day?

Individual needs will vary based on daily activity. Very active individuals engaging in sports or who have active jobs, or work in hot environments will need more fluid, and potentially electrolytes, than less active individuals.

The U.S. Reference Dietary Intake (RDI) for water for healthy individuals is 130 ounces (3.7 liters) for men and 95 oz (2.7 liters) for women. Active individuals, particularly in hot environments may need up to 565 ounces (16 liters) per day. This doesn’t mean you need to drink that much water. If your diet is high in fruits and vegetables, and you consume other low-calorie beverages and limit caffeine and alcohol, you may only need 60-80 ounces of additional water a day. If you find it difficult to drink plain water, adding low-calorie flavors or drinking sparkling water can help. Adding fresh fruit and vegetables to water helps to add flavor to water and may help increase water intake in the day.

Some health conditions, such as chronic kidney disease, may require you to limit water and fluid intake. These recommendations are for healthy adults.

Since everyone’s needs are slightly different and will vary for everyone throughout the year based on temperatures and activity levels, the best way to tell if you are adequately hydrated is by the color of your urine. Unless you consume multivitamins, supplements, or beverages that cause a yellowing of the urine, how dark or light your urine is will give you a good idea of if you’re dehydrated (darker color) or well hydrated (lighter color). Here’s a helpful chart to help you know if you’re hydrated or not.

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