Staying hydrated during the summer heat is pretty serious. Your body functions at its best When your body stays within a very narrow range of a few degrees above or below 98.6° F. People suffer from heat illness when their bodies are not able to get rid of excess heat and properly cool. When you get too hot your body tries to cool itself down. There are a couple of ways your body tries to do this.

  1. Your blood vessels dilate to increase blood flow to the skin. This allows excess heat to radiate away from your body.
  2. You start to sweat. Evaporation of the sweat cools your skin, which in turn helps to cool the whole body. You don’t want to sweat too much though. Excessive sweating can lead to dehydration.

Signs you need more water

For most people, thirst is a first, great indication that you need to drink more water. Before you become dehydrated, you’ll feel thirsty, and your mouth may feel dry or sticky.

After a while, you may also become lethargic and fuzzy-headed. Other signs include reduced urine output (and urine that is dark yellow in color). You might even notice your eyes look a bit sunken and feel dry.

Even a little dehydration can be a problem, so don’t ignore those early signs. Mild dehydration reduces your ability to think clearly and your physical coordination.

How to hydrate for heat

Start hydrating right away. It’s easier to maintain your fluid levels if you start out in a well-hydrated state, so drink water before you exercise, work, or spend time outside when it’s hot. Then continue to do so during and after your workout or work day.

The American Council on Exercise recommends these guidelines before, during, and after a workout:

  • Drink 17-20 oz. two to three hours before you exercise.
  • Drink 8 oz. 20-30 minutes before you exercise.
  • Drink 7-10 oz. every 10-20 minutes during exercise.
  • Drink 8 oz. no more than 30 minutes after exercise.

Schedule regular beverage breaks and keep a water bottle handy so you can take frequent sips of water while you work or exercise.

Choose electrolyte-replacing drinks for maximum water absorption when you are exercising for more than an hour or when you are sweating excessively during exercise in hot weather.

Drink water after you’ve finished work or an exercise session.

Snack on fresh fruits that are rich in water, like berries, watermelon, peaches, and nectarines.

Don’t overdo it. Drinking large amounts of plain water all at once can lead to ​hyponatremia or water toxicity. This can also affect long-distance runners during races who push too many fluids without also replacing electrolytes, such as sodium.

One way to gauge your hydration level is to look at the color of your urine. If you’re well hydrated, it should be pale. Also, you’ll be urinating more frequently.

Not all hydration is created equal

Some liquids work against hydration! Drinks like coffee, sugary sodas, beer, wine and hard liquor, lemonade, sweet tea, energy drinks, smoothies, and flavored milk are all culprits. They are created and are loaded with sugar, sodium, and other ingredients that remove water from your tissues. Consider swapping some of these out daily or rehydrating with more water for each dehydrating drink you consume. Not a frequent water drinker? Try sprucing up your water by adding a few simple ingredients.

Limes, lemons, mint, oranges, berries, cucumbers, and other fruits improve the taste without artificial sweeteners or preservatives. This can help you drink more water than you usually do, too. You can also give coconut water a try. This mineral-rich liquid is packed with potassium, magnesium, sodium, and calcium, so it replenishes lost fluids and electrolytes from exercise and hot climates quickly.

Have you considered using a probiotic?

Our bodies are home to good and bad bacteria. They’re in our mouth, gut, and skin. Probiotics are living microorganisms found in yogurt and other cultured foods and supplements that can help improve your body’s bacteria. Taking a probiotic can help improve your immune system, protect against infection, and improve your digestion and absorption of food and nutrients—including water. Probiotics also help with several conditions associated with dehydration, including diarrhea.

Stay safe, cool, and hydrated this summer. And remember, if you’re experiencing any symptoms of dehydration or heat stroke please seek help RIGHT AWAY or call 911 for an EMERGENCY