The summer heat has been intense, so it’s even more important to stay hydrated. Working or exercising in this heat leads to dehydration and serious heat-related illnesses.
Water is needed by every cell in our body in order to function properly. Water is used to lubricate the joints, protect the spinal cord and other sensitive tissues, regulate body temperature, assist the passage of food through the intestines and helps the kidneys release toxins and waste products.
For most people, thirst is a very good indication that you need more water. Even before you become dehydrated, you'll feel thirsty, and your mouth may feel dry or sticky. After a while, you may also become lethargic and fuzzy-headed. Other signs include reduced urine output (and the urine is dark yellow). You might even notice your eyes look a bit sunken and feel dry.
Even mild dehydration can be a problem, so don't ignore those early signs. It often reduces your ability to think clearly as well as your physical coordination.
5 TIPS TO KEEP YOU HYDRATED IN THE SUMMER HEAT
1. Bookend your day with water. Drinking a glass of water as you wake up gets you started right. I generally drink 16 oz of cool water first thing in the morning. Drinking warm water or herbal teas in the evening will keep you hydrated through the night and may help the body to rid itself of unwanted toxins.
2. Enjoy water-rich summer fruits and veggies. I love eating seasonal foods, and summer ripened fruits and veggies are perfect for keeping us hydrated. Enjoy plenty of cucumbers, melons, peaches, vine-ripe tomatoes, squash and bell peppers. Delicious!
3. Flavor water with fresh herbs. If you get tired of the taste of plain water, infuse it with fresh organic herbs, cucumber slices, lemon or lime. My favorites include watermelon basil and cucumber mint. Rinse, peel and thinly slice the fruit/veggies adding them to a half gallon mason jar or pitcher with cool water. For best flavor, it takes at least 4 hours or overnight in the refrigerator to let the flavors of the fruit infuse into the water. You can also add a pinch of sea salt to add electrolytes.
4. Drink before you eat. Sometimes when we are getting dehydrated we begin to feel weak and light headed. We may feel hungry when we actually need hydration. Unless you have diabetes and know your blood sugar is low, drink a glass of water before you eat a sugary snack. (you can always eat fresh fruits and veggies) Also, when out at a restaurant, instead of filling up on bread, drink a glass of water while you are waiting for your meal.
5. Reduce your alcohol consumption. Summer is a great time for parties, and cold beer, wine coolers and rum punches are quite popular. Unfortunately alcohol decreases the body's production of anti-diuretic hormone, which is used by the body to reabsorb water. With less anti-diuretic hormone available, your body loses more fluid than normal through increased urination. Drink a glass of water before you start drinking alcohol and try to alternate alcoholic drinks with glasses of water. You will feel much better in the morning!
Staying cool and hydrated throughout these hot summer days may seem challenging, but by incorporating even a couple of these tips into your daily habits you and your family will have more energy and have more fun doing the activities you love. Prevention is always the best course of action to avoid dehydration. If you suspect more severe symptoms of dehydration in your child or an older adult compromised by other health conditions be sure to contact a local health professional for appropriate treatment.
Stay cool and live well!