The warm weather gives us thoughts of fun outdoor activities, late night BBQs and sipping a tall glass of fresh lemonade. Hydration is important all year round, especially in warm weather because being hydrated keeps the body from overheating.
When you exercise, your muscles generate heat. To keep from burning up, your body needs to get rid of that heat. The main way the body discards heat in warm weather is through sweat. As sweat evaporates, it cools the tissues beneath. Sweating reduces the body’s water level, and this loss of fluid affects normal bodily functions.
Our fluid bodies
The human body contains about 60% water. And the more muscular and younger you are, the more water your body contains. The brain, lungs, heart, liver and kidneys all contain water, about 65-85%, and the bones contain about 31%!
Water has many crucial roles:
- It keeps your blood pressure normal
- It protects and cushion your joints and organs
- It controls your body temperature
- It is important for the digestion and absorption of nutrients
What are our fluid needs?
Research is demonstrating that fluid needs vary by person, types of exercise, and the duration of exercise. It is important to drink more frequently if you are playing intensive sports or exercising for a long time. Through proper hydrating nutrition, you can help repair your cell membranes to attract and maintain more efficient intercellular water levels. This helps the body feel more hydrated overall. Since everyone’s needs vary, it is necessary that you listen to your body’s thirst cues so you do not become dehydrated.
Signs of dehydration
- Dry lips and dry mouth
- Flushed skin
- Heat Intolerance
- Muscle cramps
- Dizziness and fainting
- Dark yellow, strong smelling urine
- Low blood pressure and increased heart rate
If you suspect that someone is dehydrated, start hydrating and it may be vital to seek immediate medical attention.
Recently I was in Sedona, AZ and I noticed my hydration level was not only affected by the heat, but was also influenced by the elevation. While hiking, I made sure I packed double the ‘usual’ amount of water.
How much is enough?
The eight glasses (8 ounces) of water rule is supported by some nutrition researchers and challenged by others. The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) for men is roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day. The Mayo Clinic suggests one way to make sure you are properly hydrated is to check your urine. If it’s clear, pale or straw-colored, it’s OK. If it’s darker than that, keep hydrating.
Recent studies are suggesting that colorful, water dense raw fruits and vegetables are some of the best forms to get water into your body cells. It is thought, these fruits and vegetables provide structured water and antioxidants so that the hydration stays in the system longer. Therefore, it is important to include a variety of hydrating foods in your daily meal plan. Keep in mind, alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, teas and colas, are not recommended for optimal hydration. These fluids tend to pull water from the body and promote dehydration.
Five ways to stay hydrated in the summer heat
The best way to beat dehydration is to drink before you get thirsty. This means to remember to drink hydrating beverages and eat hydrating foods before, during and after activities. If you wait until after you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
I suggest the following five foods and beverages to keep you in peak hydrated performance over the summer months:
Most berries are packed with water, vitamins and antioxidants, which can help the body remain hydrated. Stock up on strawberries, raspberries and blueberries during the summer months.
Two or three mineral-rich celery sticks can replenish levels of sodium, potassium, magnesium, which are important for regulating fluid transfer in the body cells. Snack on some celery and humus mid afternoon or have celery sticks and yogurt dip for an evening snack.
Cucumbers are made up of mostly water. They naturally hydrate and are often used in skin treatments for their rehydration properties. Add cucumber to your water for a refreshing summer drink! Check out this recipe for watermelon and cucumber salad I make every summer.
Thirst quenching watermelon is made up of mostly water and natural sugar. It contains both magnesium and potassium which are important for regulating fluid transfer in the body cells. Snack on a slice mid afternoon, try the watermelon lemonade at the end of this post and check out the watermelon and cucumber salad I make every summer
- Water with lemon
The summer heat will cause you to sweat out even more water, so it’s vital that you nourish the body with water. Adding lemon to water adds vitamin C which helps nourish the largest organ of the body – the skin.
For the dog days of summer, try this delicious and hydrating watermelon lemonade from Oprah.com.
Stay cool and enjoy!