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are_you_hydrated_drinking_enough_water.jpgHere in Montana, we had a pretty mild start to our summer, but these past few months have been incredibly hot and dry which has left me guzzling water non-stop all day long. Dehydration can be a real threat in the summer heat, especially if you are active.

What does water do for us?

Water accounts for about 45-75% of a person’s body weight and is essential for our bodies to function at their fullest potential. In the body, water flushes out toxins, breaks down nutrients and carries them to our cells, maintains temperature balance, and brings moisture to membranes in our throat, ears, nose, and eyes. Water keeps our skin soft, helps us produce saliva, gastric juices, and even makes up about 83% of our blood. It is in essentially every cell of the human body.

Effects of hydration and dehydration on your body

When properly hydrated, you enjoy improved cognitive function, motor skills, and focus, and can perform at your peak physical abilities. Just as proper hydration boosts your performance, dehydration has the opposite effect. The first signs of dehydration include headaches, increased body temperature, flushed skin, fatigue, elevated pulse and breathing rate, decreased exercise capacity, muscle spasms, and shriveled skin . . . among other undesirable effects. If uncorrected, the dehydration can progress to dizziness, increased weakness, and labored breathing.

How much is enough?

The Institute of Medicine recommends that most men and women consume about thirteen and nine eight-oz. glasses of water a day, respectively. Although water is the best option, sodas, juices, milk, and caffeinated beverages such as coffee still count toward your daily fluid intake. Just be sure to monitor the caffeine, sugar, and calorie intake from your beverages. Some foods, such as fruits and vegetables, also provide water.

Dehydration concerns with alcoholic beverages

Planning to enjoy an alcoholic beverage? Don’t forget to continually hydrate as you enjoy a summery cocktail or two. Alcohol suppresses an antidiuretic hormone known as vasopressin. This results in a higher urine output, which can lead to dehydration and a headache later on if the fluid is not replenished.

TIP: To end the summer without any dehydration mishaps, try carrying around a bottle of water and constantly sipping throughout the day. A sure sign that you are well hydrated is pale or colorless urine.

How do you stay hydrated? Share your tips in the comments.

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Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2005. doi:10.17226/10925. Accessed August 25, 2016.

Image credit: © tatyanagl / 123RF Stock Photo; modified by text overlay.

Hi, I am Melissa! I’m a Registered, Licensed Dietitian and I have been the Nutrition Specialist for Great Harvest since December of 2010. I got my start in nutrition at Colorado State University where I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Food Science with a focus in Dietetics. I went on to graduate from the Dietetic Internship Program at the Baptist Health System in San Antonio and then work as a Medical Nutrition Specialist in Houston. My love of the outdoors and the opportunity to work at one of Outside Magazine’s Top 100 Best Places to Work brought me to Montana and Great Harvest. My favorite part of my job is being able to work with an amazing group of fun and intellectual individuals who are passionate about making healthy eating a delicious experience while giving back to communities across the country.