by Allison Tschurjumov

As the Summer months start to approach we are spending more time outside, getting active, and soaking up the sun, and staying hydrated can be a challenge especially after a long, lethargic winter. Many of us don’t realize how little water we are taking in until after the effects of dehydration hit us.

Water is the most important essential nutrient, and this is often forgotten. Your body can’t survive without it for more than a few days. It helps supply nutrients and remove waste from our bodies, and is essential for maintaining blood circulation throughout your body. It also helps maintain your body temperature.

As the summer temperatures start to rise, make sure you are drinking enough to prevent thirst. Monitor your bodily fluid loss by checking the color of your urine: it should be pale yellow, not dark or cloudy. If you are doing a short duration (less than 60 minute) workout, water is the best choice to drink before, during and after your workout. However, if you are exercising in the heat for more than an hour, drink a sports drink that contains electrolytes in it to prevent hyponatremia, which is low blood sodium.

Also, eating at least five cups of fruits and vegetables will help, since they contain different levels of water and an important nutrient potassium. All fluids, whether it be coffee, juice, milk, or even soup provide hydration even though some liquids like coffee and tea have a slight diuretic effect. But one liquid you should avoid if your dehydrated already is alcohol, because it is extremely dehydrating.

It also might help to fill up a big reusable water bottle each morning to help remind you to stay hydrated throughout the day. It’s important to remember that just because you’re not thirsty, doesn’t mean you aren’t dehydrated!