“Nutrition Newbie” is a series focused on basic nutrition information and tips.

Ah, summer and hot weather go hand in hand. You know what else happens around this time? Constant reminders to stay hydrated, especially if you’re spending a lot of time outdoors. Whenever I hear stories of people fainting from dehydration, I always think, sheesh people, just drink water – is it so hard?

Okay, I’ll admit, I too am guilty of not drinking enough. But I’ve learned that not everyone should follow that ubiquitous so-called rule of drinking 8 glasses of water every day. The amount of water you need truly is dependent on many factors, such as your size and how active you are. A better way to gauge your hydration levels is to pay attention to your urine color. The darker it is, the more likely you are dehydrated.

Hydration can be much more than simply having a glass of water within reach. Check out these tips:

  • Eat fruits and vegetables: Tomatoes, carrots, green peppers, watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, and strawberries are full of water. Check out this infographic that shows you the water content of a variety of fresh produce.
  • Add chia seeds to your diet: Chia seeds can absorb up to 30 times their weight in water, creating a gel-like substance that the digestive system has a hard time breaking down. Sounds bad, but actually it’s not; this allows the body to absorb liquids slowly throughout the process and helps regulate the level of fluid in the body, only absorbing fluids as the body needs. This Eat Life Whole article dives deeper into the many benefits of chia seeds.
  • Jazz up your water: Plain water too boring to keep you motivated to drink it? Drink flavored waters, teas or juices. Add a little flavor to your water with cucumbers, watermelon, ginger, mint leaves, and citrus fruits like lemon or lime wedges. Here are some recipes on flavoring your water from Greatist.

    And now for the “no-no’s”. Avoid:

  • Energy drinks: These drinks contain lots of sugar and stimulants that can be counterproductive to your efforts to stay hydrated.
  • Alcohol: Alcoholic beverages can lead to additional fluid losses. I know it can be hard to say no to a cold beer at a BBQ, so if you must, try to drink one non-alcoholic beverage for every alcoholic beverage. And remember, drink in moderation: the American Heart Association recommends up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
  • What are your tips for staying hydrated during these warm summer months?

    *** Check out our last Nutrition Newbie post about easy ways to get more fruits and veggies in your diet.