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:
14-18 year old
19 years and older
14-18 years old
19 years and older
*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
fatigue or feeling tired
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.
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
Limit caffeinated beverages to no more than 3 cups per day