Let’s Stay Hydrated this Summer!
by Robin Thomas
Across the country the weather has been challenging for many, especially in the Pacific Northwest with unheard of temperatures in the triple digits. So far, here in North Carolina it’s been a pretty normal summer, but it’s still HOT and humid. No matter where we live, it remains important to stay hydrated, especially when working or exercising in the heat. Dehydration can lead to serious heat-related illnesses.
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 a little dehydration can be a problem, so don’t ignore those early signs. Even mild dehydration reduces your ability to think clearly and your physical coordination.
4 Tips to Stay Hydrated and Feel Great This Summer
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!
Flavor water with fresh herbs. Infuse your drinking water 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 herbs and fruit infuse into the water.
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 antidiuretic hormone, which is used by the body to reabsorb water. With less antidiuretic 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!
Optimize hydration with electrolytes. Minerals like sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium are considered electrolytes. They provide an electrical charge to bodily fluids like blood, urine, and sweat, and are important for signalling important electrical impulses. Three examples of these electrical operations in your body include the stimulation of muscle groups to relax and contract, pacemaker cells in your heart that use electricity to beat in unison, and electrical gradients allowing your body’s cells to communicate with one another. Proper electrolyte ratios are important and single serving packets are now available to add to your own water.
The next time you are headed outside to work or exercise in the heat, be sure to incorporate at least one or two of these preventative steps. Keep sipping cool water (best with electrolytes in extreme heat) and don’t ignore the early signs of 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 health professional for appropriate treatment.
Robin Thomas worked for 25 years in Medical Research at UNC studying inflammation in chronic and auto-immune diseases. She left UNC to start her own Wellness Business in 2004 and founded Living Well Connections, a community for people whose passion is healthy living, in 2015. Learn more at https://robinthomas.biz