Summer is here and warmer temperatures mean one may need to think a bit more about consuming fluids.

A registered dietician with the Sudbury and District Health Unit says it’s important to stay hydrated for several reasons.

“If you happen to be an athlete, it helps with athletic performance,” Tammy Cheguis said. “So if you’re dehydrated before going into an activity, you won’t do very good at it.”

Cheguis said proper hydration levels help keep one's blood pressure normal.

Tammy Cheguis

Tammy Cheguis, a registered dietician with the Sudbury & District Health Unit, gets some water before speaking about how to stay hydrated. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

It also keeps the body's internal temperate at proper levels and will help prevent heat related illnesses.

Dehydration can cause a person to faint, get moody, suffer heat stroke or heat exhaustion, Cheguis said.

“If you’re already really thirsty, you’re probably already slightly on the dehydrated side,” she said.

Other symptoms of dehydration include dry skin and mouth, dark-coloured urine and exhaustion.

How much do you need?

Cheguis said there is no magic number to know exactly how to stay hydrated, and added it depends on a person's age, gender and how physically active a person may be.

“So if you think of an eight-year-old, they may need upwards of about … 1.25 litres of fluid a day, where as an adult may need three litres a day,” she said.

To be hydrated, Cheguis said water isn’t the only source.

“You have to remember you get fluids from water or coffee and tea, and milk and juice,” she said. “You also get water from food.”

Cheguis warned against turning to an alcohol based beverage such as beer to hydrate. Beer is about 90 per cent water and about 5 per cent alcohol.

“The problem with alcohol is that alcohol is a diuretic,” she said. “So it makes you want to go to the washroom … so actually, you’re losing body water.”

And, although reaching for a sports drink after physical activity may seem ideal, Cheguis said it’s not always necessary.

“If you have … exercised pretty intensely for at least 45 to 60 minutes, you’re probably going to need a sports drink,” she said.

“[Drink] water first and then … if you’ve exercised intensely and you’re losing a lot of fluids [drink a] … sports drinks.”