July 24, 2019
Whether you are planning to attend an array of social gatherings; travel the world; prepare for your favourite outdoor activities or just sunbathe in your backyard, your nutrition and drinking routines are likely to be temporarily out of whack. While temperatures rise and you may sweat a little more than usual, making sure you stay hydrated is a must and will help you avoid heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Here are my 6 top tips for staying hydrated and happy this summer!
6 Simple Ways to Stay Hydrated This Summer
Drink Before You Feel Thirsty
The adult body is approximately 60% water and it is the primary component of all bodily fluids. Water in the body evaporates through sweating and the lungs (exercising in hot environments can increase losses up to 10 folds!). But the sensation of thirst usually lags behind the need to drink-therefore the best way to avoid dehydration is to prevent it! Drinking 2-4 glasses of water in the morning or before leaving home is a great start. Follow through by drinking at least 2-3 glasses between every meal should cover you throughout the day. If you are working out in the heat, make sure to have about 1 cup of water every 15-20 minutes.
Even though it may seem like a drag to plan your food and/or drinks in advance, it will probably save you from the unpleasant symptoms of dehydration (plus overspending at a nearby vendor!). Placing a few bottles of water in the fridge or freezer will allow you to just grab and go, plus they will stay cool for a long time. Opt for reusable glass or stainless steel bottles when you can. In a study conducted at the University of Texas in 2014, it was found that many of the alternative plastic products used to create commercial bottles that do not leach BPA still leached chemicals with EA (estrogenic activity). Exposure to various forms of UV radiation often increased the leaching of these chemicals. So don’t leave your bottle in the car or in the sun!
Spice It Up
If you are looking for different ways to enjoy water without all the sugar and additives, try adding some fresh herbs such as mint, basil and coriander as well as some citrus fruits or some fresh berries. My personal favourite: homemade ice tea with lemon slices. Yum!
The One to One Ratio
Sometimes there is nothing more refreshing and relaxing than having your favourite glass of wine or drink after enjoying a day out in the sun. The irony is of course that alcohol can dehydrate the body. Tea and coffee are also considered diuretics, meaning that they cause further water losses. How do we fix this? Simple: use the one to one ratio. For every drink of alcohol, tea or coffee, have a full glass of water. This will help to rebalance the body fluids. However, keeping consumption at a moderate amount will also help you avoid many other adverse health effects.
Eat to Drink
Food provides us with about 20-25% of our water intake and in the summer we tend to consume more raw, fresh fruits, vegetables and salads. Fruits are also juicy, naturally sweet and have a high water content. These delicious choices of fruits and vegetables are between 90-99% water; cantaloupe, strawberries, watermelon, lettuce, cabbage, celery, spinach and pickles. Fruit juices, yogurt, apples, grapes, oranges, carrots, broccoli (cooked), pears and pineapple contain approximately 80–89% water. Eat abundantly!
Look For The Signs
Early signs of dehydration include headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, dry eyes and mouth, and dark-coloured urine. Even a body water loss of 1-2 % can impair physical and cognitive performance. Nausea and difficulty concentrating could be more serious side effects. When in doubt seek help from a health professional or the first aid department since severe dehydration can have dramatic and rapid consequences. Keep in mind that infants and children are more at risk due to their higher requirements per unit of body weight and they lose more water from evaporation from the skin and lungs than adults do.
What about electrolytes?
If you’ve been sweating for several hours or exercising in the heat for more than 4 hours, drinking mineral water or coconut water are few good options to replace electrolytes lost through sweating. If you only replace water losses, you could suffer from water intoxication, a.k.a hyponatremia. That is when there is too much water relative to the amount of sodium in the body causing swelling of the tissues, nausea, muscle cramps, disorientation, slurred speech and confusion.
Bottom line, hydration is a simple and vital way of maintaining your health this summer. So enjoy your favourite refreshments!