Written by E. McDonald, UF student
Easy access to water makes it easy to get in the habit of hydration, which is why a reusable water bottle is essential for when you’re on the go.
Staying hydrated is a major part of being healthy, and in Florida’s summer heat, keeping track of fluid intake is all the more important. As busy college students, forgetting to drink water is no difficult task. But as with any aspect of taking care of yourself, mindfulness is key.
Easy access to water makes it easy to get in the habit of hydration, which is why a reusable water bottle is essential for when you’re on the go. At home, keeping a glass of water at your desk is a great way to avoid long stretches without it. If you need extra encouragement, there’s an app for that! Apps can provide automatic reminders to hydrate — try Waterlogged for iPhone.
Water is essential to our bodies, but it’s not exactly exciting. If you can’t help but be bored by its lack of taste, you can give plain water a boost by adding chunks of fruit.
Water is essential to our bodies, but it’s not exactly exciting. If you can’t help but be bored by its lack of taste, you can give plain water a boost by adding chunks of fruit. Fruit smoothies can also be a healthy, flavorful alternative to water. The American Dietetic Association says sports drinks are helpful for replenishing carbohydrates and electrolytes for more intense, longer periods of exercise; however, sugary drinks tend to dehydrate you, so it’s best to dilute fruit juices and sports drinks.
UF Student Health Care Center Registered Dietitian Janis Mena suggests drinking a half and half balance of water and your beverage of choice. Mena also cautions that protein supplements in excess can lead to dehydration. Other drinks to watch out for include anything alcoholic. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it increases the need to urinate. Alcoholic drinks therefore leave you dehydrated quickly if you don’t up your water intake after having them.
UF Student Health Care Center Registered Dietitian Janis Mena suggests drinking a half and half balance of water and your beverage of choice.
How much water do I need?
Eight cups of water each day is an easy rule of thumb, but your water needs can vary. How much water you should drink depends on your activity level and the weather. The hotter it is, the more water your body loses when exposed to the sun. For example, the U.S Army recommends that in 90-degree heat you should drink at least a quart of water every hour regardless of how much work you’re doing. According to the American Dietetic Association, when it comes to physical activity, it’s important to drink water before, during, and after exercising even if it’s for less than hour. What water you drink during exercise should be added on top of your regular intake for the day.
How do I know when I’m dehydrated?
Chances are that if you’re thirsty, it’s already too late. Other telltale signs include dry mouth, headaches, and feeling dizzy. But keeping track of your water intake can be as simple as looking to the toilet. Check out your urine color: Ideally, urine should be a clear, light yellow. Darker urine means you’re dehydrated! Note that some supplements or vitamins can temporarily darken your urine.
Even mild dehydration can cause fatigue, and long-term, habitual dehydration is a major cause of conditions like kidney stones. Going overboard on drinking water is a lot harder to do than accidentally depriving yourself — so drink up, and your body will thank you.