To be healthy we must stay hydrated You can only survive without water for about three days so staying hydrated is key to our survival. As the temperature rises the body reacts in several ways to help try and cool down including sweating. If you do not drink enough fluids to replace the waster lost through sweat then you run the risk of becoming dehydrated.
If you have any one of these symptoms then it could be a sign that you are mildly or moderately dehydrated:
- Dry mouth
- Light headedness
Why do we need water in the body?
The adult human body is around 60% water which serves a whole range of vital functions that are needed for human survival. The act of sweating and body temperature regulation to salvia which is needed to prevent bacteria build up and required for digestion. As well as lubricating our joints and helping our kidneys function and the waste removal of urine as well as helping blood flow round the body essential for life plus maintain blood pressure.
How can you check if you are hydrated enough?
There is no scientific evidence to back up the eight-glass rule of water and while it is not a bad guide to follow you need to remember that everyone is different and some may need more than others especially if they are very active or reside in hotter climates.
You can check how hydrate you are by looking at your urine colour which should be pale yellow or clear when adequately hydrated. You can download colour charts from the internet to check this against.
Are older people at greater risk of dehydration in the summer heat?
A study carried out by the UCLA School of Nursing showed how dehydration amongst older people is often not properly recognised and can lead to many health problems including urinary tract infections and frequent falls. The same study also highlighted adults over the age of 65 have the highest hospital admission rates for dehydration.
Older people can lose their thirst perception so should be actively encouraged to drink regularly.
What is the best way to stay hydrated in the summer sun?
Rehydrating is not just about drinking and there are many more interesting and novel ways you can boost your fluid intake while getting out and about in the summer sunshine.
It’s not just water that counts
Many people hate drinking water and assume that they will not be properly hydrated unless they do so but this is simply not true and food provides 20% of the fluid we get daily.
Try adding fresh fruit on top of yoghurt for breakfast to stay hydrated (melons are a good choice). If you are going on a long hike then try ordering a salad for your pub lunch as summer veggies such as lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber are dripping in water if you excuse the pun.
Hot drinks hydrate just as well as cold ones
North Africans traditionally sip on mint tea in the heat and this is because it not only hydrates but encourages the body to cool down. Herbal teas and even hot water with lemon and ginger are lovely ways to enjoy hydrating yourself fin the summer sun.
Snack on watery fruits
If you are venturing to the park or going for a long walk or bike ride then try packing watery fruits in a cool bag to help hydrate. Fruits such as melon and pineapple have a high-water content and contain a little carbohydrate to keep your energy levels up. If you’re at home then try freezing grapes, cherries and strawberries for a chilled treat.
Try sprucing up your water with herbs and fruits
If you get bored of drinking plain water, then explore the many variations of fruits and vegetables that help to improve the flavour and interest. Try adding herbs like rosemary, basil and mint as well as fruits such as lemons, oranges, melon, strawberries and vegetables such as cucumbers to your water bottle.
Treat yourself to an ice lolly!
If you are out and about in the summer sun then a fruit ice lolly is a great way to hydrate. Keep it simple and plain avoiding chocolate and sprinkles in favour of fruit-based options that will be lower in calories.
Can electrolytes help you to stay hydrated?
When you sweat, you lose water from inside and outside of your cells. The water outside the cells is rich in sodium, an electrolyte that works in balance with potassium. Potassium is an electrolyte inside the cells. Sweat contains about seven times more sodium than potassium, hence sodium is the most important electrolyte to replace if you are exercising in the heat and find yourself sweating a lot more than usual (try Healthspan Elite Activ Hydrate, £11.99 for 40 tablets).
When the heat rises it is always a good idea to make hydration a priority and you can do this by watching what you both drink and eat.
Try to remember that thirst is a signal that your body needs fluids so stay hydrated by making drinking a daily ritual, consuming fluid as soon as you get up, at every mealtime and regularly throughout the day to keep dehydration at bay.
For more information on how to stay hydrated and general health tips for over 50s, visit our health channels.Last modified: July 23, 2021