We have had some very hot days so far this summer, and there are surely more to come. This made us wonder about how what we drink and how much we drink when the temperature and humidity peak, affect how we feel. We chatted with Kate Bean, a registered dietitian, certified diabetes care and education specialist, certified health and wellness coach, and Community Health Team member at University of Vermont Health Network-Central Vermont Medical Center, for her top summer stay-hydrated tips.
Humans are made up of mostly water and, according to Kate, it helps our bodies with everything. “If you think of your body as a machine, think of water as the gasoline that keeps you operating at full steam.” Kate says water lubricates our joints and helps with brain function, cognition and energy. “It helps our bodies work the best they can.”
In terms of how much water to drink every day, Kate says this depends on your age, activity level and environment. Unless you have been advised otherwise by your doctor, Kate says more water is usually better. “Drinking should be as routine as brushing our teeth, going to the bathroom, and eating breakfast, lunch and dinner.” This is especially the case in the summer because we sweat more and lose more water. “Don’t use your thirst as a gauge,” says Kate. “You won’t know that you are dehydrated until you don’t feel great.” If you think you may not be getting enough water during the day, Kate suggests adding a glass or two of water to your routine and building from there.
Pro tip from Kate: Coffee and tea count as one serving of water.
Kate acknowledges it can be difficult for older people to drink enough water in a day. More water can mean more trips to the bathroom, which can be tough depending on a person’s mobility. In addition, many people say they just don’t like the taste of water. “I’ve found that some people who say they don’t like water have luck with really cold water, which quenches their thirst in the same way as soda, sweetened iced tea and juice.” Kate says to keep your water bottle in the freezer overnight so it stays cold during the day. If you love fruit flavors, add a piece of fruit (strawberries, watermelon and raspberries are great add-ins!) to your water for a flavor boost. Kate suggests making water consumption part of meal times and using a small glass. “Fill your glass, drink it down, and repeat.” This way, drinking water won’t feel like a chore.
If you like to take walks, hike and bike in the summer, Kate says to make sure you hydrate before your activity. “Water helps you utilize the nutrients in your body, so staying well-hydrated prior to exercise will provide you with more energy and prevent dehydration.”
Kate has a great suggestion for treats because who doesn’t love something sweet, cool and refreshing in the heat? “100% fruit Popsicles are handy to keep in the freezer for kids and grown-ups, and it’s really easy (and healthy) to whip up a smoothie with whole fruit and milk or Greek yogurt that will help you stay cool and hydrated.” Visit www.cvhhh.org/summer for Kate’s simple smoothie recipe and summer healthy-eating tips.