A summer heatwave or even just a few days of sunshine is a welcome sight compared to the cold and dreary weather we’re used to, but heat can be hard on the body. When your body sweats to keep you cool, you need to replace that water with something that will keep you hydrated — not dehydrate you.

These top tips will help you stay cool, no matter the temperature.

Drink Little and Often

Drinking little and often is the best way to stay hydrated. Try to drink water before meals, when you’re thirsty and when you feel hungry or tired, as well as throughout the day.

Drinking plain water is best, but if you find regular water a little bland, try adding a slice of lemon or lime or some cucumber slices or mint leaves. Alternatively, you can drink sparkling water, flavoured still water or squash — just make sure it doesn’t contain any added sugar.

Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol

Caffeinated and alcoholic drinks are diuretics, which means they make you need to urinate more often. This can make you dehydrated, so you’ll end up feeling more thirsty and uncomfortable. During the summer, when your body is already sweating out water, you want to retain it — not lose even more.

If you can’t go without your morning coffee or cup of tea, try to reduce your intake during the day by swapping your afternoon caffeine booster for something that will hydrate you. You don’t have to opt for water — decaf tea and coffee or herbal teas, such as chamomile and ginger, are great substitutes for caffeinated drinks.

Don’t forget that energy drinks and cola also contain caffeine, so if you’re relying on these to keep you going, they won’t be as effective at rehydrating you as you might think.

When it comes to alcohol, enjoying a cold beer or glass of wine is a highlight of the summer for many. Light beers and low-alcohol drinks, such as alcopops, are a great way to enjoy a drink without massively dehydrating your body, especially if you alternate your drinks with a glass of water.

The Exception to Drinking Water

Exercise is vital for staying healthy, but you need to take additional care in the summer. Your body can dehydrate quickly, and if you start feeling dizzy or tired or have a headache, it’s a sign you need to slow down.

If you are doing an intense workout in the heat, though, sports drinks are more effective at hydrating your body than water. When you exercise, your body loses electrolytes, including sodium, potassium and chloride. These minerals regulate many functions, such as your heartbeat, muscle contraction and fluid balance, so when your electrolyte levels get too low, you might experience muscle weakness and cramps, dizziness or an irregular heartbeat. This can also increase your risk of injury. If you suffer a sports injury, you should rest the affected area and reduce your activity. It’s also worth visiting your GP or a private hospital to get advice on physiotherapy and when it’s safe to continue exercising.

Of course, preventing injury is the best course of action. Sports drinks contain electrolytes that replenish your body and help keep you hydrated.

Drink Water, But Not Too Much

You know drinking water regularly is vital for staying hydrated, but drinking too much can be dangerous too. Drinking too much can dilute the sodium levels in the blood, which can cause nausea and sickness.

If you realise you haven’t had a sip of water in a couple of hours, don’t make up for it by guzzling several glasses — instead, just take a sip and wait for it to quench your thirst before taking another. If you’re prone to forgetting to drink water, you can set a timer on your phone to remind you or get a water bottle with hour markers that keep you on track while preventing you from drinking too much.

Eat Summer Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals your body needs to stay healthy. Eating them brings a host of benefits, including keeping your skin looking young, improving digestion, boosting brain activity and — you guessed it — keeping you hydrated.

If you’re looking for a way to get more fruits and veggies into your diet this summer, try incorporating them into smoothies or keep them on hand for a snack. Fruit and veg are also a great way to replenish lost electrolytes — oranges and bananas are a great source of potassium, vegetable juice is packed with sodium, and leafy greens will keep your calcium levels up.

Watch Out for the Signs of Heat Exhaustion

There are usually two camps when it comes to the summer: those who welcome the warm weather with open arms and those who count down the days until it cools down again. Whichever you fall in, you should know the signs of heat exhaustion.

Heat exhaustion can be incredibly uncomfortable, causing fatigue, pounding headaches, sickness and dizziness. Alone, heat exhaustion isn’t dangerous, but you must cool down quickly to prevent it from becoming a medical emergency.

Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke if not treated promptly. If you can’t reduce your body temperature within 30 minutes or have trouble breathing, you should call an ambulance.

Staying hydrated is important every day, but it’s particularly crucial during the summer. The key to staying hydrated is remembering that it’s not just about drinking more water — it’s also about paying attention to your body’s signals and being mindful of what you consume. With these tips, you’ll be able to do just that.

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