Hydration Essential for Beating the Summer Heat
Water is one of the body’s most important nutrients, making up 70 percent of our muscles and 75 percent of our brains. It is essential to healthy bodies, especially in the summer heat, when not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration.
Dehydration occurs when there is an excessive loss of water from the body. Some of the symptoms can be increased thirst, dry mouth, weakness or lightheadedness, darkening of the urine and a decrease in urination.
“In this hot weather, you not only need to replenish liquid lost from physical activity, but need to remember that hot or humid weather can make you sweat, which also requires additional intake of fluid,” said Mary Jane Hoshaw, M.S., R.D., manager of the Diabetes Center and Clinical Nutrition Services at MidMichigan Medical Center–Midland. “If more water is ingested the body can sweat more and cool itself down.”
It’s generally not a good idea to use thirst alone as a guide for when to drink. By the time thirst sets in, the body may already be slightly dehydrated. In order to prevent dehydration and enjoy the summer weather to the fullest, MidMichigan suggests the following:
- Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid a day, the 8 x 8 rule. All fluids count toward the daily total. Although the approach really isn’t supported by scientific evidence, many people use this easy-to-remember rule as a guideline for how much water and other fluids to drink.
- Drink eight ounces of a cool liquid before exercising and remain hydrated during exercise by drinking every 15 minutes. When finished exercising, drink eight to 12 ounces of water to replenish water lost through sweat.
- Choose a sports drink if exercising intensely for 90 minutes or more. Adding a complex sports drink can help replace loss of sodium, potassium and other electrolytes as a result of exercise.
- Keep children hydrated, as they don’t always recognize thirst. If kids are playing out in the yard make sure they have something to drink every 30 to 45 minutes.
- Drink water instead of something with high amounts of sugar or calories, such as fruit juices or soda pop.
- Consider ‘prehydrating’ by drinking water one to two hours before exercise.
Those who would like more on information on MidMichigan may visit www.midmichigan.org, or call MidMichigan Health Line at (989) 837-9090 in Midland or toll-free at (800) 999-3199.