By Meredith, Pure Matters
If you live in certain parts of the country right now, you probably don’t need me to tell you this, but I will anyway: It’s hot. Sizzling, humid, sweaty, and uncomfortably hot.
And heat is much more than an inconvenience -- it’s a killer. The National Weather Service warns that heat is the No. 1 weather-related killer in the country, causing yearly fatalities in the hundreds. That’s right -- more people die from heat-related causes than from tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods.
Now that I have your attention … the best thing you can do to help beat the heat is stay hydrated -- even if you’re retreating to the comfort of air-conditioning all day long. Here are five ways to help keep your body running as cool as possible during the hottest days, and even on the cooler ones.
Reach for Smarter Beverages
Water is your best friend. The standard advice of 8 glasses a day is deceiving and doesn’t work for everyone -- a better approach is to take a look at your pee. Bright yellow? Drink more. Clear-ish? You’re right on track. If you’re not a huge fan of water, there are a number of options currently out there to add a little extra flavor. I’m a big fan of Crystal Light’s new Pure line -- which is 100 percent natural, contains no artificial sweeteners, and comes in individual packets so you control how much or how little flavor you’re adding. Another option I like is Nuun, sugar-free electrolyte-enhanced tablets that dissolve in water. They’re primarily designed for runners, but there’s no reason everyone can’t enjoy the benefits! You can also play it simple -- add a squeeze of lemon, lime, or orange.
Don’t Create a Deficit
One of the fastest ways to dehydrate yourself is to drink fluids that will undermine your hydration goal. On hot days, take it easy on the coffee -- try to limit yourself to just one cup -- and don’t bother with soda, particularly highly caffeinated sodas like Pepsi and Mountain Dew. That’s because caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it makes you pee … giving your body less time to absorb fluid into your cells. (Plus neither beverage option is particularly nutrient-packed.) The same goals for energy-booster drinks like Red Bull. And, this should go without saying, but if it’s hot outside and you’re drinking alcohol, you’re setting yourself up for potential disaster -- and at the very least, a killer hangover.
Eat Your H20
If you’re feeling full from all that liquid, you can try adding options to your meals that are high in water content. Watermelon is almost entirely water, as are oranges, cantaloupe, and grapefruit. You can snack on them throughout the day, or use them in salads -- I like to make a watermelon/goat cheese/endive salad or a cantaloupe/mozzarella/prosciutto salad with dinners on hot days. If fruits aren’t your thing, you can funnel extra H20 to your body by way of leafy greens, particularly romaine, as well as tomatoes.
Operate on a Schedule
When you start to feel terribly thirsty … you’re late. The best thing to do to stay hydrated is to drink on a constant schedule -- before your body starts complaining. Set an hourly reminder on your computer to get up and get a fresh beverage -- or download an app to your smartphone for consistent reminders and a little extra help tracking.
Invest in a Water Bottle
Earlier this summer, I got tired of washing glass after glass every night, and invested in an adorable, reuseable glass bottle from Lululemon. Guess what? I use it nonstop, because I always have it with me and I can always find a water fountain. If you’ve got your own bottle with you, you’re more likely to fill it up, saving you money in the long run -- and helping the environment, too!
Are there other tricks you use to pump up your water consumption in the summer? If so, I’d love to hear ‘em. And, remember, the older you are, the more susceptible you are to heat-related illnesses. Take care of yourself, and drink up!