Battle summer heat and stay hydrated

Published 4:24 pm Saturday, July 21, 2012

Most of us know it is important to stay hydrated in the hot summer months, but many of us still have trouble drinking enough and are looking for fun ways to stay hydrated.

Did you know that the human body is about 70 percent water? During hot weather, it’s more important than ever to replace this water when we sweat.

When we’re active, we use muscles. Muscles generate heat and the body responds with sweating to maintain a normal temperature.

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If we get dehydrated, we lose the ability to regulate body temperature and life-threatening heat injuries can follow.

Be sure not to start your exercise program dehydrated.  Be sure to drink within an hour before exercise, as well as during and after to replace lost fluids.

Thirst is not a good indicator of hydration. Early symptoms of dehydration are headaches, dizziness or fainting, cold clammy skin, rapid heartbeat, nausea, drowsiness, loss of concentration, irritability, decreased performance, heavy sweating and muscle cramps.

Beyond heat cramps comes heat exhaustion and even heat stroke.

All these stages of dehydration are dangerous and must be treated. If you have these symptoms, get out of the heat; drink water, juice or sports drinks (unless your doctor tells you otherwise); and get medical attention.

Water is always a good choice for fluid replacement. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “bottled and tap water are equally safe with similar regulatory oversight.”

So pick your favorite water and drink up.

You should drink at least one pint every 30 minutes during activity and even more when it’s hot outside. At a minimum, you should drink about eight glasses of water each day. Sports drinks are good, though the extra electrolytes may not be necessary for normal hydration.

Juice works but contains too much sugar to drink as your only source of hydration. Alcohol, energy drinks and coffee are not good hydrators because they work as diuretics in the body, making you less hydrated.

Do you wonder if you are drinking enough?

A simple way to check is to look at your urine. If it is dark, you need to drink more, If it is light, you are doing a good job of staying hydrated.

Get a variety of liquids in your diet. Drink plenty of water and drink more when it’s hot outside. If you see any of the symptoms of heat injury, take action immediately.

Five Fun Ways to Stay Hydrated

1. Keep a favorite glass or bottle close at hand to sip on throughout the day.  Kids love to use a special glass or straw to encourage more water consumption.

2. Keep a glass at your bathroom and kitchen sinks and take a drink whenever you go into these rooms.

3. Need a flavor boost? There are many low-calorie or non-caloric options to suit everyone’s taste. Try your favorite Crystal Light, Propel Zero or Hy-Vee Simply Light packets – or if you want more natural flavorings, squeeze your favorite citrus fruit into your water for a flavor boost.

4. Make your own concoction and freeze into ice cubes or popsicles.  Need help with creativity?  Ask a kid to help make them up.

5. Dilute your favorite juices with water, starting with a little and working your way up. See how dilute you can make your drink and still enjoy the taste.  A small amount of juice can go a long way. Use carbonated water or tonic water for a fun juice drink.