During the dog days of summer, nothing beats soaking up the sun on a sandy beach. Yet spending hours outdoors with minimal shade can lead to dehydration, a dangerous condition resulting from inadequate intake of fluids. In its mildest form, dehydration causes dry mouth, dizziness, headaches, sleepiness, and other unpleasant symptoms. In severe cases, dehydration may result in seizure or shock — yikes!
Sipping on water throughout the day limits your risk of dehydration, whether you’re basking on a beach towel or participating in a volleyball match. Even so, beach-goers can take extra steps to ward off the dangerous effects of high heat. Here are four other things to pack in your beach bag to keep hydrated while enjoying the surf and sand.
While plain water is sufficient for a day at the beach, coconut water (the liquid found inside coconuts) has an added benefit: electrolytes, which naturally hydrate the body. Coconut water also boasts low calories, minimal sodium levels, and high potassium, according to a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. What’s more, the tropical drink doesn’t contain added sugars, which sets it apart from other electrolyte-heavy sports beverages.
Who says you have to get your recommended water intake only through fluids? The American Institute for Cancer Research says fruits and vegetables have high water contents, making them perfect for fighting dehydration. Dara Godfrey, a registered nutritionist based in Manhattan, recommended cucumbers, strawberries, cantaloupe, celery, oranges, grapefruit, and watermelon. “Watermelon also packs a fabulous dose of vitamin C to help boost your immune system, as well as lycopene (an antioxidant),” she told HG. “I like freezing slices of watermelon to eat like popsicles.”
Tired of chugging water at the beach? Consider packing fruit or vegetable juice, too. Not only will the juices quench your thirst, they’ll also pack your body with essential nutrients. To make the healthiest choice, avoid anything with added sugars or syrups, and stick with all-natural options.
Coffee or tea
We’ve all heard that coffee and tea function as diuretics. But despite that popular belief, the caffeinated beverages aren’t actually dehydrating, according to a 2014 study published in PLOS One. As an added bonus, coffee and tea are loaded with antioxidants and help to improve concentration. So make a pit stop at Starbucks on the way to the beach, or fill your beach tote with bottles of your favorite tea. Just be sure not to drink too much of the good stuff, or you may suffer from jitters, restlessness, or the natural diuretic effects of caffeine. “I typically recommend two glasses of water for every glass of coffee or black tea” in order to combat these issues, said Godfrey.
Warning: Alcohol leads to dehydration
You may dream about lounging on the beach with a piña colada in your hand. But unfortunately, boozy beverages pull water from the body, which increases the risk of dehydration. Your best bet is to avoid alcohol altogether during a long day at the beach. If you really want to enjoy a cocktail, make sure to drink more water than normal to counteract water loss in the body. A good rule of thumb is one large glass of water for every alcoholic beverage consumed.