Staying hydrated

As the Earth’s climate continues to shift, it is hard to know what to expect weather-wise from one day to the next. For summer in particular, some areas of the country are experiencing record heat waves. Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are very real killers, but they are also very preventable.

In this post, learn how to stay hydrated and healthy during summer’s hottest days.

Why Water Is Always best
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), water is hands-down the best source of hydration for the human body. When the body gets dehydrated, the heart has to work harder to do its job, as do all the other muscles in the body system.

Just drinking water with meals is typically not enough to stave off dehydration when temperatures soar. Here are some AHA guidelines to ensure sufficient hydration:

– Pay attention to urine color. Pale, colorless, odorless urine indicates good hydration. Dark, odorous urine indicates likely dehydration.

– Take body weight before and after exercise. This gives a measure of how much sweat is lost (and must be replenished by drinking water) during exercise sessions.

– One pound equals one pint. For every pound of sweat lost (as measured on a scale), the body will need one pint of water to replenish itself.

– Notice sweat. If the body is not sweating, even during vigorous activity, this can indicate dehydration.

– Avoid intake of caffeinated, sugary, alcoholic or fruity drinks. These have more sugar than water and can do the body actual harm.

– Take in sports drinks with care. Many are loaded with sugar and calories which are not helpful for hydration.

– Drink water first. Before going outside or exercising, first drink some water to hydrate.

– Be aware of special hydration needs. Some medications or health conditions can increase the risk of dehydration.

– Drink water after using the restroom. This is a reliable way of remembering to replenish lost fluids.

– Stay mindful of more vulnerable populations. The very young, the very old, pregnant women, athletes and those with special medical conditions may be especially vulnerable to dehydration and should take more precautions to stay hydrated.

Other Hydration Helps
In addition to water, some foods contain a great deal of hydration that can act as a supplement to water for the body.

In this way, choosing healthy snacks and meals can keep the body hydrated without having to continually drink water (which may not be desirable on long road trips or in places where restrooms are few and far between)!

Here are some great snack choices that can help keep the body hydrated:

– Fruits (74 to 92 percent water). Citrus, melon, tomatoes, star fruit, berries, apricots, plums, pineapple, cherries, grapes, banana, apples, pears.

– Vegetables (79 to 96 percent water). Iceberg lettuce, cucumber, celery, radishes, bell peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, carrots, zucchini, red cabbage, green peas, white potatoes, eggplant.

Know the Signs of Dehydration
A major part of staying hydrated is knowing the warning signs of dehydration. Here, the goal is to spot early warning signs well before symptoms indicative of heat cramps, heat rash, heat exhaustion or deadly heat stroke begin to manifest.

Here are some helpful early warning signs to keep a lookout for:

– Increase in allergy symptoms.
– Constant low-grade hunger resulting in snacking.
– Craving for high-sugar foods.
– Digestive issues, especially acid reflux or constipation.
– Darker urine or less urine.
– Mental fogginess or trouble concentrating.
– High stress with a corresponding need to urinate.

By understanding how dehydration arises, what the warning signs and symptoms are and what can be done to treat or even prevent dehydration, summer will be more fun and enjoyable and also much healthier!