Be a Hydration Sensation
As you experience all the beautiful milestones of summer, remember to drink plenty of water and eat a diet rich in hydrating whole fruits and vegetables to keep you going strong all summer long.
Whether you’ve lived here for years or are just passing through, you know Oklahoma gets hot — triple-digit-degrees-for-days hot. If you’re new here, you might not know how important it is to stay hydrated during summer and how easy it is to become dehydrated under the scorching sun.
Our bodies are 60 percent water by weight, and proper hydration is essential for our overall health. After all, the water we consume optimizes blood pressure, regulates body temperature, lubricates joints, moves waste out of the body, and aids in digestion.
And with increased summer temperatures and outdoor activities comes increased water loss — through sweating and evaporation — as your body works to stay cool.
A 2 percent reduction in body water weight (a mere 3 pounds on a 150-pound person) can lead to problems with short-term memory, attention, and visual-motor tracking. If you plan to use your noggin at all this summer, keeping it well-lubricated is imperative.
Here are some of the best ways to stay cool, hydrated and healthy without feeling water-logged or sprinting to the bathroom every five minutes.
What causes dehydration?
Most people think dehydration is caused by a lack of water, and while that’s undoubtedly one component, it is also a depletion of electrolytes. You’ll see health problems occur when you’re depleted of things like sodium, potassium, magnesium— different things that are running through the bloodstream and affect energy levels and metabolism.
Electrolytes are key
Sodium, potassium, chloride, phosphate, and magnesium are a few of the body’s essential electrolytes. These minerals aid motor, digestive and neurological functions, and when depleted or overconsumed, they throw our bodies into a state of imbalance. Symptoms of electrolyte depletion can include irregular heartbeat, fast heart rate, fatigue, nausea and more. Hypernatremia, or loss of sodium in the blood, is most common in high-endurance athletes.
Are you dehydrated?
If you feel like you need to take down a bottle of water, you’re probably already at the point of dehydration. Prevention is key. Consistently monitor urine color throughout the day to help become more familiar with your hydration levels. It will be darker in the morning, which is normal, but if you’re approaching that dark apple cider color, you’re getting into a dangerous level of dehydration.
Eat your water
Consuming fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the day can help replenish water and electrolytes naturally. Some of the best-hydrating foods include:
- Green bell peppers
- Iceberg lettuce
- Star fruit
What to watch for
Symptoms of heat stroke or heat exhaustion include loss of motor function; confusion; hands that are sweaty, clammy or completely dry; muscle aches and cramps; dizziness; hot/flushed skin; nausea or vomiting; and convulsions.
How much water do you need?
It’s important to consume fluids as often as possible throughout the day. But you can drink too much water. We love water in the summer especially, but it’s all about maintaining balance. If you’re drinking plenty of water but still feel thirsty, you may be “drowning your body” by depleting electrolyte levels. Consider swapping an 8-ounce glass of water for an electrolyte-enhanced beverage such as Gatorade, Powerade or coconut water to replenish electrolyte levels and achieve a state of euhydration — the technical term for optimal hydration. Don’t try drinking a gallon of water in one sitting. Instead, try to evenly distribute water intake throughout the day to bring levels back to normal.
There are many different opinions about daily water consumption. According to the Mayo Clinic, the recommendation is 3.7 liters (124 ounces) for men and 2.7 liters (92 ounces) for women. Your body size, climate, level of activity and overall health can also affect how much water you need.
Get to know your sweat
If you’re a person who sweats more than usual or you have a lot of salt coming out in your sweat, you’re going to have to pay closer attention and make sure you have a beverage on you at all times. If it looks like there’s a whitish color on someone’s skin, you can see they are putting out more sodium. Some recommend that you can add salt to your water before a workout (especially hot yoga), or drink Pedialyte, which will help balance electrolyte levels during the workout.
It’s also vital to avoid diuretic beverages such as coffee and tea, which could bring you to a state of dehydration quicker by potentially increasing your urine and sweat output.
If you exercise heavily, you should weigh yourself before and after your workout, and drink a cup of water for every pound lost during your exercise session.
It’s true that maintaining good gut health helps keep you hydrated. Not only do beneficial bacteria help you absorb nutrients and electrolytes from food and drinks (which supports efficient hydration), but a healthy microbiome helps keep away any harmful microbes that can cause temporary intestinal issues that can lead to dehydration. And, bonus — probiotics support your skin hydration, too.
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