South Africa summers are notoriously hot. As the scorching days approach, staying well-hydrated becomes critical for maintaining good health and overall well-being. This is because high temperatures and increased outdoor activities can lead to rapid fluid loss. Discover the best tips for staying hydrated as Bloom explores a range of practical tips to help you beat the summer heat and ensure you stay healthy. From recognising the signs of dehydration to refreshing hydration tactics, we’ve got you covered.
The importance of water for our bodies
Staying adequately hydrated throughout the day is critical for good health. Staying hydrated is important because water is essential for almost every bodily function. For instance, being hydrated assists with some of the following:
- Mental performance. Mood, memory, concentration and reaction time are negatively affected if a person becomes dehydrated. Keeping well hydrated stabilises mental functioning.
- Temperature regulation. Your body will store and build up heat when you become dehydrated, which can increase your risk of developing heat stroke or heat exhaustion. By drinking fluids, your body will sweat, which cools your body and lowers your temperature.
- Digestion. The digestive process requires water. If an individual is not properly hydrated, this will interfere with the regularity of their bowel movements, causing painful bloating, constipation, and heartburn.
- Energy. Being dehydrated will slow down your circulation and adversely affect the flow of oxygen to your brain. As a result, your heart will have to work harder, pumping more blood through your body, and leaving you feeling fatigued.
- Weight control. Maintain your goal weight by drinking enough liquids. A well-hydrated body maintains a healthy metabolism.
- Joint lubrication. The cartilage in your joints is made up of about 80% water. It’s essential to remain well hydrated in order to keep the joints lubricated to avoid causing friction and to reduce painful joint pain.
- Kidney health. Dehydration can increase your risk of developing kidney stones, which are caused by a build-up of mineral crystals in the urinary tract. Drinking enough water will help dilute the concentration of these crystals.
- Bladder health. Water helps flush out harmful bacteria from the bladder, reducing your risk of developing urinary tract infections.
- Detoxification. Staying hydrated supports your body’s natural detoxification process where waste is removed through perspiration, breathing, urination and bowel movements.
- Heart health. A large proportion of blood is made up of water. If you become dehydrated, your blood becomes concentrated, which can cause an imbalance of electrolytes and minerals, like sodium and potassium.
How much water should you drink?
The amount of water an individual should drink will depend on a number of factors, including age, gender, activity level, climate and individual health needs. However, the recommended daily fluid intake is the “8×8” rule, which means drinking 8 glasses of water a day. This is approximately two litres.
How to recognise the signs of dehydration
Dehydration is a condition where your body lacks sufficient fluid to function properly. It occurs when your body loses more fluids than it takes in. The symptoms vary in intensity. Severe dehydration is life-threatening. Overall, dehydration can cause several types of health issues if not addressed promptly, which is why you need these tips for staying hydrated. Learn to recognise the signs of dehydration and take action:
- Thirst. One of the early and easiest signs of dehydration is an increase in thirst.
- Dark urine. A well-hydrated state renders light yellow urine, whereas a dehydrated state, typically displays much darker urine that is dark yellow.
- Reduced urination. A dehydrated person will urinate infrequently.
- Dry mouth and skin. A dehydrated state often results in dry mouth, sticky saliva and chapped lips.
- Fatigue. When an individual becomes dehydrated, it becomes harder for the heart to pump blood and deliver oxygen, which results in exhaustion or general fatigue.
- Fainting spells. Reduced blood flow to the brain can cause dizziness, and even lead to fainting.
- Headaches. Dehydration is linked to the cause of headaches and migraines. This is because the reduced blood flow to the brain affects oxygen delivery and causes blood vessels to narrow.
- Constipation and digestive discomfort. Insufficient fluid in the body leads to harder and drier stools, which contributes to constipation.
- Muscle cramping. Dehydration can contribute to muscle cramps because of the electrolyte imbalance it causes.
9 Tips for staying hydrated
There are several ways to keep yourself well-hydrated over the summer. Take a look at these top tips for staying hydrated.
- Fluid intake. Drinking plenty of fluids and water throughout the day will help keep your body well-hydrated. The best type of fluid is water. However, there are other alternatives, like coconut water and herbal tea. Discover the best and worst drinks for hydration.
- Consume hydrating foods. There are many different fruits and vegetables that have a high water content, which you can use to keep yourself well-hydrated. Foods like watermelon, cucumber, spinach, oranges and pineapple all have a high water content and are excellent choices for staying hydrated.
- Set a schedule. Sometimes it’s easy to forget to hydrate yourself when you’re busy. Create a routine for drinking water or fluids, like when you first wake up in the morning or during all your meals.
- Water bottle or reusable cup. Keep a water bottle or a cup with you at all times so you can hydrate regularly and replenish your fluid supply at intervals.
- Avoid dehydrating drinks. This includes beverages with a lot of sugar, caffeine or alcohol.
- Limit outdoor activities. Avoid going outdoors or participating in strenuous activities during the peak heat period of the day.
- Be aware of your condition. Be mindful of the symptoms of dehydration. If you suspect you’re not getting enough fluids, take a pause and rehydrate.
- Use sunscreen. Sunburn can increase your risk of dehydration, as well as skin cancer. Apply plenty of sunscreen when you’re outdoors.
Get affordable healthcare cover
Bloom encourages members to adopt a healthy lifestyle. This means keeping your body in great condition with our tips for staying hydrated this summer. Your body needs water in order to function properly. This is especially relevant during summer when the heat and outdoor activities could lead to dehydration and health risks. Make sure you and your family are covered and get affordable health insurance from Momentum Health4Me. Compare Health4Me options, or contact our offices to speak with a trained consultant.