Proper hydration cannot be stressed enough in the hot summer months in Oklahoma. It is something that is detrimental to your health, yet can be very easily fixed. Water makes up over half of your body weight, and therefore your body depends on water for survival. Every organ, tissue, and cell in your body needs water to be able to function properly. For example, it is necessary for your body to maintain a normal temperature, lubricate joints, remove waste, and maintain overall good health.
You can lose water by going to the restroom, sweating, and even breathing. You especially lose a lot of water when the temperature is hot because you sweat a lot to help maintain a good core temperature. You can also lose water faster if you have a fever, vomiting and/or diarrhea or if you are an athlete and are constantly sweating from being so active. If you do not replace the water you lose, you will enter a state of dehydration.
Symptoms of being dehydrated can consist of dark yellow urine, little or no urine, dry mouth, fatigue, extreme thirst, headache, confusion, or being light-headed or dizzy. You should never wait until you notice symptoms to begin rehydrating. It should be an ongoing process to ensure good health.
You can stay hydrated by drinking approximately 8 ounces of water per day. Some people may need more or less than that, but if you are outside in the hot Oklahoma weather; chances are you may need more than this amount. Water is certainly the best way to rehydrate. However, you can also get some water from milk, juices, soda, coffee, tea, and sports drinks. These should not always be used to replace water though. The caffeine in the coffee, tea, and soda can make you use the restroom more often or make you jumpier than usual, which will lead to you needing to rehydrate even more. You should also choose sports drinks, juices, milk and sodas wisely; as most will add on a lot of sugar and calories to your diet. Several fresh fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon, can also add in some extra water to aid in rehydrating.
There are several things you can do this summer to help make sure you are staying hydrated. Carrying around a water bottle is very beneficial. Having it in front of you helps you remember to drink it, and it is easy and cost effective to refill it at water fountains or with tap water. Starting and ending your day with a glass of water is also a good habit to adopt. If you can’t always remember to drink enough, start drinking water on a schedule until it becomes a habit. An example of this could be in the morning, with every snack or meal, and at night before bed. If you know you will be spending a lot of time in the heat or are doing physical activity, make sure you drink plenty of water before, during, and after being in the heat.
Written by: Kaitlin Scepanski, Oklahoma State Dietetic Intern Student