Tips for Staying Hydrated & Why Water Isn’t Always the Answer
Grace Weatherby
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2024

Tips for Staying Hydrated & Why Water Isn’t Always the Answer

Staying hydrated is important for many reasons. From regulating body temperature and aiding digestion to improving concentration and your mood, fluid is critical to all our bodily functions. In fact, even a 2% fluid loss can put you off your game.

While staying hydrated is important no matter the season, it’s especially important to be mindful of fluid intake during warmer weather and whenever you’re exerting yourself to the point of sweating. And because sweat is made up of more than just H20, you may need to reach for something other than your water bottle.

Here are some tips for what to drink and when:

For light thirst: In most cases, water is totally up to the task for light thirst. Diluted fruit juices mixed with plain or sparkling water and unsweetened teas are also solid choices for fluid replacement.

For mid- to high-intensity exercise: If you’re pushing yourself and sweating heavily, you’ve got several options to bring your body back into balance.

Consumed in the right amount, water can certainly replace fluid lost to sweat. During normal exercise, the average person should aim to drink about a half a quart of water every 30 minutes, or a full quart in an hour, to replace the fluids they’re losing.

If you’re really pushing yourself (exercising for an hour or more), sports drinks are a good option to replace fluid and electrolytes lost through sweat.

Another great recovery beverage option is milk. Studies have found that both full-fat and skim milk are more rehydrating than water and sports drinks, and are a great source of protein, carbohydrate, vitamins, and minerals.

In addition to knowing what to drink, it’s important to know what to avoid when looking to rehydrate. Some beverages, namely those that contain alcohol and caffeine, can actually make you more dehydrated.

Here’s what to avoid when hydration is the goal:

Soda: Typically loaded with sugar, soda can undermine your effort to hydrate.

Energy drinks: A core component of energy drinks, caffeine is a natural diuretic which contributes to increased fluid loss through urine. Plus, some energy drinks contain other ingredients, such as Taurine, that also have diuretic effects giving you yet another reason to not reach for them when trying to hydrate. 

Alcohol: Regardless of form—beer, wine, or liquor—alcohol is a diuretic that leads to increase urination and dehydrates the body. To counteract the effects of your summer cocktail, aim to have just one alcoholic drink per hour and have one full glass of water for every beverage consumed.

If you have trouble keeping track of your fluid intake throughout the day, don’t stress. Your body has a built-in dehydration warning system: your pee.

An odorless, pale yellow urine color (think lemonade) is a sign that you are well hydrated. If your pee appears darker in color (leaning towards apple juice) and has an odor, you need to up your fluid intake sooner than later.  

 

Lisa Moulton, FNP is a member of the care team at SVMC’s Deerfield Valley campus.

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