Summer is here and with it comes higher temperatures and an increased amount of time outdoors. Staying hydrated is an important part of being healthy and feeling good. Our bodies need hydration to run properly and at optimal levels on a daily basis. Every single cell in the human body needs water to function properly. We need water to regulate our temperature, to cushion and protect joints and organs and to help digestion move smoothly. Most of us drink at least some water every day, but now that it’s summer, it’s important to be more vigilant than ever.

For many years, it’s been recommended that you drink eight 8 ounce glasses of water every day. That’s a daily total of 64 ounces daily. While this may be an easy task for some, many people never seem to achieve this. Numerous reports over the years have stated that the old “eight 8 oz glasses a day” recommendation is an outdated myth. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends men get roughly three liters (99 ounces) of total beverage intake every day, and women get 2.2 liters (70 ounces), while others say there’s no need to force water consumption if you’re not thirsty.

The more recent suggested intake levels include more than just water alone, it includes all fluid. Coffee, tea, fruit juices, even sweetened beverages provide your body with more water, though the latter is not recommended for hydration purposes. Even food adds to our fluid intake with about 20 percent of the average person’s water intake coming from food. Foods with high water content such as watermelon and cucumbers give our water intake count a boost.

While you don’t have to give up your iced coffee or sweet tea as a summer favorite, these shouldn’t be the only thing you drink. One or two cups of coffee or tea will not dehydrate you but if it’s all that you drink throughout the day then it will lead to dehydration because of their diuretic effect. So how much is too much? More than 500 mg a day of caffeine will dehydrate you and your average coffee or tea contains 40 and 120 mg of caffeine, depending on the strength of the brew.

If you are exercising or planning to be outdoors in the sun, you will perspire and the need to replenish the lost fluid increases. If you’re working out for less than an hour, drinking more water will do the trick. Anything over that, you should grab a sports drink that will help balance your electrolyte levels or eat something high in potassium like bananas, which will help balance your electrolyte levels. You don’t deplete electrolyte and glycogen reserves until you’ve been exercising intensely for over an hour.

Again, staying hydrated in the summer is especially important with the rising temperatures and increased activities. You can still enjoy your favorite beverages as long as water is a primary source of hydration- drink up!

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