Keeping your body adequately hydrated becomes even more important during the hot summer months when your body’s cooling system has to work overtime to keep you from overheating. Water keeps the body systems up and running, keeping you cool in the warm weather and well-insulated when the temperature falls. Every cell, tissue and organ needs it to function, in fact, it’s the nutrient your body needs in the greatest amount. Whether you’re engaged in a vigorous workout, at a family picnic, or swimming laps at the gym, it’s crucial to keep the fluids coming.
Of course cool glasses of simple H2O is the best way to prevent dehydration. But you can also improve your health, nutrition and hydration by choosing foods and beverages that are loaded with water, vitamins, nutrients and cancer-fighting agents. The following are some points to consider to maintain adequate hydration as you move through the hot summer months.
The American Dietetic Association recommends that you get at least six to eight 8-ounce glasses a day, more if you’re active. It’s the key to keeping your body in good working order. Water transports nutrients, carries away waste, hydrates skin, ensures adequate blood volume, helps to carry medicines to the proper places in the body, moistens the eyes, mouth and nose and forms the main component of body fluids. Most of us reach for a tall glass of cold water when we’re thirsty, but there’s other ways to get more fluid into your diet that are also packed with nutrition.
Start incorporating more low-calorie, low-density foods into your daily diet. These include fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains like oatmeal, rice and pasta. They’re packed with water and give you a healthy boost with the vitamins and minerals they contain. Studies have also shown that water- rich foods can help you to lose weight because they make you feel full faster and they’re low-fat as well.
All kinds of melons, apples, berries and citrus fruits are loaded with water, vitamin C and cancer-fighting antioxidants. Get more fiber and water at lunch and dinner with a bowl of vegetable soup. Replace your morning coffee with decaffeinated herbal teas, fruit juice or green tea. In fact, research show that the antioxidants in green tea may reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart disease. Have a cup of broth before your dinner. Puddings, frozen fruit bars, sorbets, frozen yogurt and gelatins are great dessert choices that also give your hydration a boost.
Water Log Your Workouts
Increasing your muscle activity leads to an increase in heat production inside your body. That’s when your body’s cooling system kicks in, in the form of sweat. Some may even lose up to six to eight pounds of sweat each hour during strenuous activity like cycling or running. Research has shown that every liter of sweat you lose translates into an eight-beat-per-minute increase in heart rate.
It’s crucial to replace water at a faster rate than it’s being lost in order to prevent dehydration. Adverse effects of dehydration include: lose of muscle strength, endurance and coordination, increased cramps, heat exhaustion and life threatening heat stroke. Aim to consume at least two cups of water (16 to 20 ounces) before you begin a vigorous workout. Drink two more cups of cool water approximately 15 to 20 minutes right before you begin to exercise. You should also try to consume frequent, small servings of water every 15 minutes during your workout, particularly during hot, humid weather.
Remember that fluid consumption is just as important if you’re swimming in cool water and can’t feel the sweat dripping down your forehead. “Exercise generates internal body heat and increased blood flow that increases your kidney activity as well as the filtering process in the bladder,” says Cindy Abrams, a registered nurse. Abrams explains that body fluid is lost to simple, physiological body functions, not just through sweat, and stresses the importance of staying hydrated while engaging in any activity that causes physical exertion to stave off dehydration. Signs of dehydration include, thirst, dry mouth, flushed skin, fatigue, headache and impaired physical performance. As the body becomes more dehydrated, warning signs include dizziness, muscles spasms, labored breathing and increased body temperature, breathing rate and pulse rate.
The ADA recommends the following tips to add more water into your daily routine.
-Take “water breaks” throughout the day.
-Have a glass of water with all of your meals.
-Take a sip from every water fountain you pass
-Drink water before, during and after physical activity
-Take a bottle of water with you in the car, when you’re traveling, to the movies…
-Switch to decaffeinated coffee and tea.
You know that nothing tastes better than cold water on a summer afternoon in Arizona, but it’s also important for your body. As you’re diving into the pool, ocean or lake to cool down this summer, remember to fuel your internal cooling system with lots of water and water-packed foods. They’ll boost your energy level, your body’s efficiency as well as your immune system. You can survive as long as six weeks without food, but you couldn’t survive more than a week without water.