You’ve probably heard that you should drink 8 glasses of water (about half a gallon) per day. This general rule of thumb is intended as a guide to help keep the body running smoothly and prevent dehydration. For those working outdoors during peak summer heat, this advice is especially important.
In fact, extreme heat and heat-related illnesses are one of the leading causes of weather-related deaths in the United States. Heat stress is caused when the body is unable to maintain its normal temperature. And while people over 65 or those with underlying health problems are most affected, even young and healthy people should be aware of the threats posed by heat stress.
Signs and Symptoms of Heat Stress:
- Lack of sweating
- Hot, dry skin
- Lack of appetite
- Shortness of breath
As we roll into the hot summer months, it’s important that you take the time to drink small amounts of water frequently, whether or not you feel thirsty. In particularly warm areas of the country, you should also think about how much time you are spending in the sun, taking short, frequent breaks in the shade, and wearing sunscreen and protective clothing (such as hats) if possible.
But staying hydrated isn’t just about avoiding serious health risks and heat-related illness. There are also a number of positive health benefits to drinking plenty of water every day.
Top 7 Benefits of Staying Hydrated:
1. Avoiding Muscle Cramps and Pain
Muscle cramps are a common symptom of being dehydrated, often from heat. This happens when your body loses too much fluid and is unable to cool itself off. Muscle cramps are especially common when exercising or performing strenuous activity, particularly outdoors in the summer heat.
Tip: Staying hydrated and drinking water is only one part of the solution. You should also avoid alcoholic or caffeinated beverages that can accelerate dehydration, including coffee, tea, and energy drinks.
2. Preventing Headaches
Dehydration can also lead to headaches and migraines that range in severity. If you are drinking caffeinated beverages like sodas, teas, or coffees, remember to also drink extra water to avoid dehydration-related headaches.
3. Boost Your Immune System
Your body’s major organs need water to function properly. Staying hydrated helps keep your organs running smoothly, which in turn helps your body fight off sickness more efficiently. This is especially important in the spring and the fall, as changing temperatures often lead to seasonal illness like the common cold or flu.
4. Support Bone Health
When it comes to building strong bones, you may naturally think of milk. But studies show that drinking plenty of water also helps support overall bone health. By staying hydrated, you’re both helping your body maximize bone strength, and reducing the chance of bone-related injuries.
5. Good for Your Brain
Dehydration can impair your mood, memory, and brain performance. In fact, some studies show that even mild dehydration can affect your overall brain function. By simply drinking enough water, you can avoid negative side effects like the inability to concentrate, headaches, anxiety, and fatigue.
6. Good for Digestion
By drinking plenty of water, you’re helping your body’s digestive system stay regular. In fact, for many patients who report constipation as a health issue, drinking more water is often one of the first recommended treatments.
7. Good for Metabolism
Drinking water can help you lose weight. That’s because water not only helps you feel more full, but it also helps boost your overall metabolism. When it comes to supporting a healthy metabolism, when you drink water is also important. Experts recommend drinking cold water 30 minutes before meals. This helps you feel more full and avoid eating extra calories you don’t need.
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