Enjoying summer days in Rexburg can be great fun, but dehydration can also be sneaky and can hit at any moment. Mixing summer sun and hot weather is the perfect recipe for dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and possibly heat stroke. These happen more often than you might think. Much of the time under-hydration occurs in children and adolescents. And the chance of under-hydration increases when they, and adults too, are on the playing field. So, this summer let’s prepare and improve the hydration game with the following tips:
1. HYDRATION-BOOSTING NUTRIENTS
Staying hydrated requires more than just water. Electrolytes and carbohydrates also play important roles in absorbing fluids. Additionally, electrolytes—sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, and calcium—are vitally important for healthy nerve and muscle function. The good news is there are numerous beverages available containing electrolytes and carbohydrates.
2. EAT FOOD
Food, not just beverages, is part of fluid consumption and a major contributor to hydration. Many summertime foods like melons, strawberries, and tomatoes are high in water, minerals, electrolytes, and carbohydrates. A delicious way to improve water consumption is to combine fruits and vegetables in a bottle of water and infuse the flavors. It tastes great and it could also be a sneaky way to get your kids to drink more water.
3. CHECK YOUR YELLOW
The color of your urine is a good way to see if you’re hydrated. Take a quick look at your urine before, during, and after your day in the sun. If the coloring is clear to a light yellow, you’re more than likely properly hydrated. If the urine is dark yellow to almost yellow-brown, you’re in need of immediate hydration.
4. MONITOR YOUR WEIGHT
Another way to gauge your hydration is by monitoring sweat loss. An easy way to do this is by weighing yourself before and after your activities outside in extreme heat. Sweat loss can result in as much as 1 pound of weight loss. That’s 16 ounces of water gone that needs to be replenished. Optimal weight loss during these activities is less than 1% of your body weight.
5. DRINK WATER THE NIGHT BEFORE
Because dehydration can be so sneaky, why not stay one step ahead and start hydrating the night before. If you have an early morning activity planned, begin your hydration sooner than later as it is best to consume fluids before, during, and after your day in the sun. Remember, you’ve already spent the evening in bed not drinking anything and possibly waking up already dehydrated. So, make it a priority to drink water a couple of hours before bed and immediately when you wake up.
Water is the one nutrient in our body that doesn’t store. If you are well hydrated you eat less. Water helps our whole body work better. It keeps the organs functioning well.
Our bodies are made up of about 60% water, staying hydrated is crucial.
“Summer is a particularly risky time, we lose a lot of water through our skin and through our respirations,” said Merri A. Bowler, Madison Diabetes Education Coordinator. “We just need to be extra diligent to make sure that we are drinking enough.”
Over the past two years, on average, Madison Memorial Hospital has received about ten cases of dehydration per month.
Summer heat increases the risk of dehydration, this is a concern as everyone tends to become more involved in activities during the warmer months.
If an individual gets dehydrated then they may become nauseated, very confused and have significant problems. It is also important to ensure children have access to water because they are more susceptible to dehydration.
Improving Water Drinking Habits
In order to stay hydrated throughout the day, it is a good idea to carry around a water bottle. Reusable bottles can be refilled multiple times and at the same time are more transportable than cups or glasses.
Madison Dietitian, Susan Clark, is a big believer in water bottles.
“If you have a 24-ounce bottle or something like that at your desk or with you all the time it’s easier,” said Clark. “I know I drink a lot more that way than if I just get a few ounces in a cup every few hours.”
One effective way to increase the drinking of water is to add flavorings.
“If you don’t like water then you can put some lemon flavor, lime flavor in it and that too to make it a little more drinkable,” Bowler recommended.
Water Benefits Proper Body Functions
Water is important for the proper function of:
- body temperature
- the bowels
- the gastrointestinal tract
- the kidneys
- the liver
- the skin
- the urinal tract
Drinking water also helps muscles to be energized therefore it is very important to hydrate before and during exercise activities. Sweating causes those working out to lose fluids that need to be replaced by drinking water.
Drinking water helps to maintain the balance of our bodies’ fluids. WebMD suggests six reasons to drink water here.
Water helps with cognitive function or in other words thinking.
“Water helps our whole body work better, it keeps the organs functioning well especially like the kidneys,” said Bowler.
Water Benefits Physical Appearance
Drinking water is a strategy many dieters have used to help with weight loss and controlling calories. Foods that are water-rich are absorbed more slowly by the body and help you to feel full. A few examples of water-rich foods are:
- soups with broth
Proper hydration helps the skin to keep moisture in because the skin contains water and helps fluid loss to not be excessive through prevention.
Water provides good hydration for most people and is all that most need unless exercising at a high intensity for an extended period of time, then sports drinks may help provide electrolytes, according to FamilyDoctor.org. While they may provide electrolytes it is important to be cautious with consumption due to high sugar content.
Drinks containing high amounts of sugar are not as beneficial for proper health.
“A little bit is okay. Things like Powerade, Gatorade, you know like your sports drinks, they have a lot of electrolytes so those are really good if you’re in a hot environment sweating a lot of your sodium out because there’s a lot of sodium in sweat,” Clark said. “For most people, water is sufficient.”
For most people, it is not necessary to drink beverages other than water.
Water and Diabetes
“If you are well hydrated then you eat less,” said Bowler.
Drinking water helps with feeling full. Often times feelings of hunger are actually indicators of thirst.
“Sometimes we are really thirsty when we think we are hungry and so it helps with that but it’s just a good thing to drink so that you don’t have added sugars and caffeine,” Bowler said. “It’s really important for people with diabetes to stay well hydrated also it really helps the body handle the sugar better.”
Water is important and so are you. It’s time to take a sip and get refreshed!
Further dietary counseling information can be found at Madison Education Department.
Madison Education Department
35 N 1st E, Rexburg, ID 83440