Staying hydrated should be simple, yet it’s something many of us don’t always get right – hence those late-afternoon energy slumps and pesky dehydration headaches. It can be even trickier when you’re on holiday somewhere far hotter and sunnier than usual – but this is when hydration is most important, so it’s a good idea to keep a few considerations in mind.
“Whether you’re enjoying the British sunshine or holidaying abroad, topping up your fluid intake might be the last thing on your mind, but it’s important,” says Dr. Emma Derbyshire, public health nutritionist and adviser to the Natural Hydration Council (www.naturalhydrationcouncil.org.uk). “When the weather heats up, this can drive up the body’s temperature and lead to over-heating.”
Early signs of over-heating include feeling uncomfortably warm, dizzy and disorientated, which can develop to include headaches, nausea and extreme thirst. If not addressed quickly, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke – a potentially serious condition that should be treated as an emergency (symptoms can be similar to those of heat exhaustion but rapidly become more severe, and despite being very hot, a person will stop sweating, a sign that the body’s reached a point where it’s no longer able to cool itself down).
Getting plenty of shade and staying protected in the sun also help keep over-heating at bay, but the importance of hydration shouldn’t be overlooked.
Here are eight holiday hydration tips to keep in mind…
There are guidelines for fluid intake – Derbyshire says “aim for a baseline intake of eight glasses a day” - but it’s still important to consider how your hydration needs might change when you’re in a hot climate, and keep a constant check on how you’re feeling. So if you do notice any signs of over-heating, you can get straight into the shade to drink up and cool off.
If you’re not keen on drinking water, consider buying – or packing – some squash or cordial to mix with bottled water. Soft drinks and tea count towards hydration too (so long as you’re not just drinking coffee and alcohol!), but as Derbyshire notes: “All fluids count, but in the volumes needed, water is the healthiest way to hydrate as its calorie and sugar-free.”
Keep in mind when you’re exploring, or seeking out secluded spots on the beach, there might not be shops or cafes nearby. “So don’t forget to take drinks with you,” says Derbyshire. “A cool bag with ice will help keep the drinks chilled.”
Our bodies heat up more – and use more fluid reserves – when we’re being physically active, which includes leisurely sightseeing strolls, as well as those more strenuous hikes or visits to the pool or tennis courts, so make sure you take on extra if you’re being active. Derbyshire suggests aiming for “about 250ml every 30 minutes”.
Never really sure whether you’re drinking enough? Checking the colour of your urine can be a useful guide. “Urine should be a pale straw colour,” says Derbyshire. “Any darker and more fluid is needed.”
Fluid intake, especially when you’re in a hot country, doesn’t work on the same principles as food intake – so make sure you’re thinking about hydration regularly throughout the day, and not just taking drinks at mealtimes. Carrying a bottle of water is the easiest way to do this, so you can sip at regular intervals.
Not all fluids are hydrating – caffeine and alcohol are, of course, diuretics, which mean they increase the rates of water and sodium excreted through urine. In other words, they can be dehydrating. So if you’re enjoying a cocktail or two on holiday, or sampling local wine with your meal, it’s a good idea to alternate boozy drinks with soft drinks or a glass of water.
If reaching your destination involves catching a flight, keep in mind that flying, and those skin-sapping air conditioning systems, can exacerbate dehydration too – especially if you like to toast the start of your holiday with an in-flight G&T. So remember to glug plenty of water (getting up to go to the toilet will be good for circulation and keeping DVT at bay too!).
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