Population Health Check-Up: Don’t be wet behind the ears when it comes to summer hydration!

Rock legend Carlos Santana once braved the elements at outdoor music festival Woodstock. Fast forward more than 50 years, and the guitar god faced his own mortality while playing a Michigan concert.

Heat exhaustion and dehydration were identified as the factors for a recent on-stage collapse, which caused the artist to postpone several upcoming shows. Santana’s recent scare is one many of us should take to heart, especially in light of record temperatures in Houston and throughout the nation.

Hydration, in particular, should be heeded as cities are seeing 100 degree temperatures.

There are a myriad  of reasons why people are not drinking enough water, and a common factor is simply not having access clean, drinkable water.

Recent studies have shown that low-income communities are among the most at risk for not having access to clean water, with as many as 1 million Americans experiencing water insecurity. Add the cost of bottled water to the equation (costing families upwards of $1,300 annually), and many people often don’t get enough daily H2O.

Price aside, older generations often have an aversion to water simply because of its lack of taste. Tea, lemonade, an iced soft drink or even a cold alcoholic beverage might be the preferred option on a hot day despite water being the healthier option. While these drinks may be more flavorful than water, they all contain sugars that will contribute to dehydration during the dog days of summer.

The downsides of not having enough water (especially in hot weather) are many. Headaches, fatigue and even heat stroke are just some of the consequences of not staying hydrated.

Some hydration recommendations from UH Population Health are as follows:

  • Bottles Up!: Keep a reusable bottle or your favorite cup nearby. This will ensure that you’re always reminded to grab a quick drink from the office water cooler, your filtered pitcher or your sink.

  • Goooaal!: Set goals for yourself. We always hear about eight glasses of water daily, so try to make that goal each day. Need a reminder to reach glass No. 8? A number of apps are available to offer helpful hydration reminders.

  • Find a flavor… : If you were brought up with the notion that “water is only for bathing,” then you might consider spicing up that glass of water with a flavor packet. Some of these flavorings do more than just enhance the taste of water, as they contain electrolytes and Vitamin C.

  • Wake up! Caffeine is a diuretic!: This is tough for coffee drinkers to hear, but too much java will dehydrate you. The same goes for teas and sugary soft drinks.

  • Everything in moderation: Just as caffeinated beverages contribute to dehydration, alcohol depletes water from your system.

In addition to being a healthy way to beat the heat, water also supports overall wellness and weight management. With that in mind, don’t stop reaching for the H20 when temperatures eventually cool down.