[dropcap]Summertime[/dropcap] has arrived and brings with it all the wonderful things we enjoy: splashing in the pool, vacations, slower schedules and warm weather. Staying hydrated may not rank very high on your list of things to do this summer, but as the temperature marches up the thermometer, keeping a glass of water close may not be a bad idea.

Our bodies need water. According to Amy Ray, a nurse practitioner from St. John Clinic Family Medical Care, we need proper hydration to do everything from maintain our body temperature and lubricate our joints to keep other important organs such as heart, lungs, brain and kidneys working properly.

“Water gives us energy, helps maintain healthy skin and keeps our minds sharp,” she says.

While staying hydrated is important year round and for everyone – we are all approximately 60 percent water, after all – the summer sweats out a few additional reasons to watch the water intake.

[pullquote]Eating more fruits and vegetables can supplement your fluid intake while providing you with needed nutrients”[/pullquote]“More heat equals more sweat,” Ray says. As we sweat under the summer sun, we are losing vital moisture which needs replacement. And for those of you going on vacations, high mountain regions and dry climates increase the need for water, according to Ray.

We’ve probably all heard the importance of drinking eight glasses of water every day. Ray agrees with this advice.

“On average, individuals should drink 48 to 64 ounces of water daily,” she says. That’s about six to eight glasses. However, she cautions that it is important to know your health status and to work with your doctor, as there are conditions that require individuals to restrict fluids.

But more important than counting glasses of water is watching for the symptoms of proper hydration. “When we are properly hydrated, we feel good,” says Ray. She mentions that with proper hydration your mouth, eyes and nasal passages will be moist, you will have a need to urinate regularly and urine will be clear or pale yellow. You will also have more energy.

“Healthy skin and an effective immune system are signs of a properly hydrated body,” Ray says. “Other signs can include a reduction in headaches, increased energy and even weight loss.”

Signs of dehydration need to be addressed immediately and, if ignored, can lead to heat exhaustion or even heat stroke in the hot Oklahoma sun.

“Thirst is usually one of the first signs of dehydration,” Ray says. And while nothing truly replaces water in ensuring proper hydration, adding lemon, lime or orange slices to your water can add some flavor without any added sugar or sodium.

“Eating more fruits and vegetables can supplement your fluid intake while providing you with needed nutrients,” Ray says. She also mentions things like chicken and beef broth, applesauce, popsicles and yogurt as ways to improve hydration, but she cautions that they also have a lot of salt and sugar.

So don’t let a lack of water take the fun out of the season for you. Keep hydration on your to-do list this summer and fill up your water bottle before heading out for lots of hot weather fun.

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