As a registered dietitian, staying hydrated is always at the top of my wellness routine. I start out each morning drinking a large water bottle, sometimes still and sometimes bubbly, that gets continuously refilled throughout the day. While each individual's hydration needs will vary based on their current health status, medication use, activity level, and age, one thing is true for all of us: Hydration is essential.
During warmer months, hydration becomes even more of a priority. The long, hot, humid days cause us to perspire more and therefore lose more water. Below I share common signs of dehydration, and what I do to avoid it—no matter the temperature outside.
Signs of dehydration:
- Urine color: Pale yellow is the ideal urine color—anything darker generally indicates dehydration, while clear can be a sign of overhydration.
- Feeling thirsty: For many of us, by the time we feel thirst, we may be mildly dehydrated. This is especially true if you're feeling extreme thirst.
- Muscle cramps, spasms, or twitching
How to stay hydrated when it's hot outside:
Start with good, clean drinking water.
Starting with delicious, clean water makes drinking it more enticing. Think about it: If your tap water has an odd taste, that's a big deterrent to staying hydrated. At the same time, store-bought bottled water is expensive and not great for the environment.
With a good home water filter, you can easily fill up water bottles and glasses, making hydration simple and cost-effective (with no added waste of plastic bottles!). I love my Berkey water filter because it sits right on our countertop and filters out 200-plus contaminants—not only does the water taste good, but I know it's safe to drink.
Zhush it up!
Let's face it, sometimes plain water can be boring to drink. Zhushing it up with bubbles or fruits and herbs is a simple way to make the beverage more enticing (I love using a SodaStream to add some bubbles to my water). Whether you drink sparkling or still, adding fresh fruits and herbs is a nutritious alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages. Here are some of my favorite flavor combinations:
- Ginger + lemon + cucumber: The ginger has anti-inflammatory activity, lemons are antioxidant-rich, and whole cucumbers are a nice source of both fiber and hydration.
- Iced mint tea + sliced cucumbers: Drink this when you're really not in the mood for water (tea can be hydrating, too!). This beverage combo is easy to put together and refreshing on a hot day.
- Frozen honeydew melon + lime + sparkling water: The frozen melon and lime add a wonderfully sweet yet tart flavor to the effervescent water.
Making herbaceous or citrus-infused ice cubes is another fun (and beautiful!) way to spruce up your water while keeping it cool. And if you prefer to keep your add-ins simple, these five foods will make your water 10 times more hydrating.
Set hydration reminders.
Some people respond well to prompts and reminders: You can set alarms on your phone or computer, letting you know it's time to take a few sips. There are also a variety of apps and even smart water bottles, which can keep track of how much you've had to drink and nudge you when it's been a while.
If tech trackers aren't your thing, keeping a reusable water bottle or cup nearby can serve as a friendly reminder to take a sip (especially if it's actually giving you friendly reminders, like this one).
Consume hydrating foods.
While 80% of hydration comes from drinking water, the other 20% comes from food, so varying your intake of fruits and vegetables throughout the day is important. Here are a few of my favorite hydrating foods:
- Green smoothie: I blend together mindbodygreen's organic veggies+, coconut water, chia seeds, blueberries, banana, and ice. The greens powder has an excellent nutrient profile, chia seeds are one of the most underrated hydrating foods, and coconut water is chock-full of electrolytes. Plus, it tastes delicious!
- Leafy green salad with bell peppers and strawberries: Spinach and kale are made up of about 90% water, making them ultra-hydrating greens. I like to mix those with fruits and veggies for a sweet and savory crunch!
- Hydrating fruits and veggies: For a thirst-quenching snack, I opt for a few pieces of watermelon, honeydew, or cantaloupe, a handful of blueberries, or a few stalks of celery. These are all completely portable and quick to put together—perfect for long days out and about in the summer heat. For more inspiration, check out these five hydrating foods.
Maya Feller, MS, RD, CDN is a Registered Dietitian who specializes in nutrition for chronic disease prevention. She received her masters of science in nutrition at New York University and completed her clinical nutrition training at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. After graduating, Maya established a DOHMH funded food and nutrition program in an outpatient setting where she oversaw the nutrition program, counseled patients and was responsible for the daily soup kitchen and weekly food pantry where she partnered with neighborhood CSAs and food co-ops to bring local and organic food to her clients.
Maya shares her approachable, real food based solutions to millions of people through regular speaking engagements and as a nutrition expert on The Dr. Oz Show and Good Morning America. She's also an adjunct professor at NYU where she teaches nutrition and lectures at nutrition symposia. When she's not hard at work, you may spot Maya out for a run, shopping at the Park Slope Food Coop or enjoying a delicious meal with her family.