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July 24th is International Self Care Day! This day is celebrated all around the world to encourage individuals to look after their own health based on the knowledge and information available. This year we are focusing on one of the seven pillars of self-care – healthy eating which includes our fluid intake. This is especially relevant at this time of the year, where the days are longer and we may be outside in the heat more often to enjoy the beautiful weather. Spending more time in the heat, however, can put us at a higher risk of dehydration.

 

What is dehydration?

Dehydration is when the amount of water leaving the body is more than the amount being taken in. We lose body water through breathing, sweating & urination. When body water is lost, our bodies activate a thirst mechanism, which signals to us to drink more.

 

How much fluid is recommended?

You may have heard to drink 8 glasses of water per day but the amount needed is different from person to person.  See below for more specific recommendations:

Women

14-18 year old

7 cups

19 years and older

9 cups

Pregnant

9 cups

Breastfeeding

12.5 cups

Men

14-18 years old

10.5 cups

19 years and older

12 cups

*1 cup = 250 mL

 

You may need more if you are more active or spend a lot of time outside in the heat. Coffee, tea, milk and water all count towards our fluid goals. It’s best to limit the amount of sugar added to beverages such as coffee or tea and also sugary drinks such as juice or pop to avoid spikes in blood glucose.

 

How do I know if I’m dehydrated?

The following are early signs of dehydration that you can identify:

  • little to no urination or dark urine

  • dry mouth

  • fatigue or feeling tired

  • headache

  • dizziness

 It’s not always easy to tell if we are dehydrated! Thirst can sometimes be confused with hunger and as we age, we also lose the ability to feel thirst as strongly.

 

Diabetes and Hydration

People who live with diabetes are at higher risk of becoming dehydrated. This is because high blood sugar levels cause sugar to spill into the urine and increase the amount of water that the body releases. This is why frequent urination & excessive thirst are a symptom of high blood glucose levels.

 

Hydration Tips

  • Focus on drinking small amounts throughout the day, rather than waiting until you are feeling dehydrated. The key is prevention!

  • Set an alarm, or use a time-increment water bottle to remind you to continue drinking throughout the day

  • Always bring water when you are physically active, whether it’s indoors or outdoors even if it’s for a short period of time

  • Add mint, cucumber, citrus or berries to your water for a splash of colour and flavour

  • Avoid alcohol

  • Limit caffeinated beverages to no more than 3 cups per day