India enjoys a tropical climate; while some parts of it are wet, other parts mostly feel the wrath of the harsh sun during the months of March till late July. Many people are susceptible to fall ill or become a victim of dehydration during this time. Fluids are therefore a necessity to keep the organs and the body active and running all day long. Some of it will come from food, some from juices, lemonades, coconut water, caffeinated drinks, etc.
Water for life
As the weather warms up in most parts of the country, we tend to get thirsty and sweat profusely. Since our bodies are almost 60% made up of water, keeping them well hydrated, especially in this sultry weather, will allow us to function better and maintain blood electrolytes levels, right from keeping our energy levels up to supporting an active immune system. Consuming enough liquids assists the body in better absorption of nutrients and makes way for better digestion, as the water helps break down food, making it a requirement for regular and healthy gastric functioning too.
The mildest of dehydration can take away energy from your body; it can dismantle the body’s ability to carry out normal functions, and make you feel lethargic all the time. The survival of your body is most dependent on water as every cell, tissue and organ in it, needs an adequate supply of water to perform their functions optimally.
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How much water intake is required?
Depending on the weather along with certain factors such as if you exercise, or if you suffer from any ailment, are pregnant etc. you might have to modify the intake but otherwise it is usually advised to take in around 3-4 litres for men and around 2-3 litres for women. We tend to lose water as we breathe and perspire, through our urine and bowel movements etc. hence, to retain the liquid lost and replenish the supply, a healthy adult living should aim for at least 2-3 litres of water daily. This can constitute water containing foods or beverages apart from water as well.
Your doctor or dietician can help determine how much water intake is enough for you on a daily basis. If you rarely feel thirsty or your urine passes out colourless/ light yellowish, these are indications your liquid intake is normal. To make sure you don’t suffer from dehydration, it is wise to drink a glass of water between each meal, after exercising and not wait until you are extremely thirsty. You can also try out certain digital apps to check how much water is good for you.
6 smart ways to stay hydrated during summers
Here are some ways in which you can ensure to stay hydrated at all times during the scorching summer heat:
- Add some flavour: If you find plain water too boring to consume regularly, you can add some zest and flavour, maybe slices of cucumber or lemon, or fresh mint leaves, fruit slices etc. It will not only act as a cooler down the throat but will also encourage water intake frequently. For sweet lovers, you can add a pinch of cinnamon and cardamom along with half a teaspoon of Rooh Afza, and cool it. This makes a delicious, mildly sweet flavoured water.
- Eat your water: Certain fruits and veggies have high water content, such as grapes, watermelon, strawberries, cucumber, lettuce, spinach etc. Their consumption can often lead to fulfilling the daily quota of water for the body. Including them in the diet will not only help keep the body hydrated but will also help supply the healthy nutrients contained.
- Sip some energising smoothies: Prepare some tasty fruit smoothies, with strawberries, peaches, blueberries etc. this can work wonders too. They are a great and refreshing way to help you stay hydrated.
- Make fruit popsicles: To add a twist to the daily water intake, you can freeze some fruits like watermelon, grape and strawberry to fill in the popsicle mould and enjoy it after an hour or whenever you feel thirsty. This is not only a way to rehydrate but will also help add a delicious flavour to the plain water intake.
- Avoid loss of body fluids: Avoiding extreme sun exposure, especially during mid afternoon hours, when the sun rays are at their strongest helps keep the body temperature in control and prevents you from getting dehydrated or falling sick. If you have to step out, try and wear loose fitting, cotton clothes that are light and airy to allow your skin to breathe. Carry an umbrella or a hat and sunglasses to keep your head cool.
- Go for snack alternatives: Instead of having carb packed pasta and noodles, try for zucchini noodles or healthier alternatives that contain water. Mixing them with tomato sauce which in itself is a powerhouse of water will make such meals hydrating and an overall healthy option for hunger pangs during the day.
How to know if you can be dehydrated
Dehydration can be mild, moderate or in some cases severe where the individual has to be admitted for IV fluid hospital trip. The doctors will accordingly prescribe fluids and medications that will act as the best defence mechanisms to beat the dehydration afflicted. When you feel any of the following signs or symptoms, consult an expert immediately for a timely cure.
- Dark urine
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Dryness near the mouth
- Difficult bowel movements
- Faster heartbeat
While these are some physical signs to check for dehydration, one can also go for blood tests, to check the levels of sodium, potassium and other electrolytes.
With the temperatures soaring, it pays to drink enough liquids throughout the day. It does well to your skin too, and is good for muscle development. Besides, it works on the overall immunity as well. Anything done in excess can be harmful; similarly, though it is advisable to drink enough water and keep the fluid intake adequate, going beyond the limit can adversely deplete the sodium level of the body. Hot and humid weather makes us sweat more than usual, and hence requires additional and frequent fluid intakes. Take care!