Heuser Health

 

Hydration in the Summer Heat

By: Lauren Berryman

With high temperatures surpassing 90 degrees lately, Louisvillians must ensure they are staying hydrated in this summer heat. With many activities outdoors, hydration is of upmost importance. The human body is composed of over 60 percent water, and it cannot function without it.

Water aids metabolic processes, regulates body temperature, controls blood pressure and helps remove waste, among countless other functions. 1 Because summer typically means hotter temperatures and more sweating, hydration is key.

According to the CDC, 43 percent of adults do not consume adequate water. 2 This statistic raises concerns, especially in hot and humid weather. Additionally, when exercising, the body can lose almost 2 liters of water through sweat. The best way to stay hydrated is to drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise.

On average, one should drink six to eight cups of water per day. However, the more one sweats, the more water they should drink. In addition, medical conditions, like diabetes and heart disease, impact the amount of water one should intake. 3

Another way to stay hydrated is eating foods high in water content, like cucumbers, celery and watermelon. In fact, about 20 percent of daily water intake comes from foods consumed. 4 Drinking sports drinks also helps replace electrolytes lost. However, be wary of drinks high in sugar content.

Coconut water is a good alternative to sports drinks because it is high in potassium and contains natural sugars. However, water still reigns as the best option and is zero calories. If you desire a fruity flavor, try adding fresh lemon, strawberries or mint to taste.

Thirst is the first sign of dehydration. According to the NIH, other symptoms include dry mouth, fatigue, headache, dizziness and dark yellow urine. 5 If you experience any of these symptoms, listen to your body and hydrate.

Dehydration can lead to heat-related illnesses, including heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Heat cramps cause painful muscle cramps, heat exhaustion causes dizziness and vomiting, and heatstroke is the most serious condition resulting in unconsciousness.

Ways to prevent dehydration include exercising indoors or at cooler times of day, progressing gradually and allowing the body to acclimate. Acclimation takes about two weeks and optimizes the body’s cardiovascular function by increasing blood plasma levels and increasing cardiac output. It also lowers the sweat threshold minimizing the body’s water loss. 6

Soaking in that vitamin D outside during the summer is important, but always remember to stay hydrated. Even when reading a book by the pool or enjoying a summer cookout, keep a water bottle handy, and enjoy your time outdoors.

 

References:

  1. Laskey, Jen. “The Health Benefits of Water.” com, Everyday Health, 16 Feb. 2015, www.everydayhealth.com/water-health/water-body-health.aspx.
  2. Underhill, Allison, and Michael Schroeder. “8 Ways to Stay Hydrated Besides Drinking Water.” S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, 2 July 2019, health.usnews.com/wellness/slideshows/8-ways-to-stay-hydrated-this-summer-without-drinking-water.
  3. “Staying Hydrated – Staying Healthy.” The American Heart Association, The American Heart Association, 6 Aug. 2014, www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/staying-hydrated-staying-healthy.
  4. Underhill, Allison, and Michael Schroeder. “8 Ways to Stay Hydrated Besides Drinking Water.” S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, 2 July 2019, health.usnews.com/wellness/slideshows/8-ways-to-stay-hydrated-this-summer-without-drinking-water.
  5. “From the Extension: Stay Hydrated during Hot Summer Days.” Daily Commercial, Daily Commercial, 6 July 2019, www.dailycommercial.com/news/20190706/from-extension-stay-hydrated-during-hot-summer-days.
  6. Belval, Luke. “Heat Acclimatization.” Korey Stringer Institute, University of Connecticut, 5 Mar. 2015, ksi.uconn.edu/prevention/heat-acclimatization/#.