Stay hydrated during hot summer days
With the arrival of summer, there are many activities that can keep us outside for extended periods of time. Due to the much warmer weather, we should consider the additional water we need to take in to compensate for the fluids lost when sweating. If fluids are not replaced, we can increase our risk of heat-related illnesses such as dehydration.
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), symptoms of dehydration range from mild to severe. Signs include thirst, dry mouth, headache, muscle cramps, inability to urinate or very dark urine, dry shriveled skin, increased heartbeat, sunken eyes or cheeks, light-head, or even fainting. Children, older adults and people with illnesses or diseases, such as diabetes, are at a much higher risk of dehydration.
Water is a major component in the structure of our body. Our bodies are comprised of more than 60 percent water. It serves vital functions, such as transportation of nutrients, removal of waste and body temperature regulation. Staying hydrated is extremely important to help keep your body functioning at optimal level.
The best way to ensure proper hydration is to consume fluids, preferably water. Water is the best choice when thirsty. It has no calories and it’s typically available everywhere. Most people are aware of the rule of thumb that encourages eight cups of water per day. However, there are many factors that influence how much water you should consume daily. Some individuals may need more or less depending on their age, activity intensity and length, type of weather and health status. When engaging in physical activity, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends to start drinking water before exercising or beginning an outdoor activity and every 15-30 minutes while engaging in the activity.
Even though water is vital for bodily functions, many people opt to consume other beverages which may be loaded with added sugars. Added sugars are typically found in beverages, such as soda, juices, sweet teas, sports drinks, energy drinks and specialty coffee drinks. These beverages tend to be high in calories and sugars and low on nutrients.
In order to decrease the consumption of sugary beverages, try sprucing up your water. Add a splash of your favorite 100% fruit juice to water to enhance its flavor. Typically, people will infuse water with lemon, lime and mint but the possibilities are endless. When making a glass of infused water, use about one-quarter cup of sliced or smashed fruits and veggies or when making a gallon, use about two to four cups of produce. Currently, watermelon and mango are in season. Try cutting a few slices of watermelon with mint or rosemary and add it to your glass of water. Blend slices of mango, lime and basil for a refreshing treat. Drink immediately or place in the fridge for a few hours in order to let the flavors infuse into the water. In addition to water, low-fat or nonfat milk is a healthy option and is a great source of vitamin D and calcium.
Summer is a time for fun and many outdoor activities. Remember to stay hydrated especially on days when the temperature and humidity levels are high. The first sign of dehydration is thirst. Listen to your body and drink plenty of fluids in order to avoid dehydration. Above all, make sure you enjoy your summer!