Many of us enjoy the outdoors and the sun. The heat? Not so much… especially when it gets overbearing and sweltering. Heat leads to sweating and that leads to dehydration. Other than creating an uncomfortable feeling, this can have serious consequences including heat stroke. So, to avoid the discomfort or emergency room visits, here are some reasons to stay hydrated and Cureology tips for keeping your body’s water stores continuously replenished.
First of all, your skin is the largest organ of the body and is your first line of defense against the elements and dehydration. During the hot summer months, your main concern is protection from the damaging UV rays from the sun. While the sun is important to help provide us with vitamin D, there are drawbacks. Too much sun is not healthy for anyone because of the risk of skin cancer, especially melanoma which can be lethal. Even without the extreme of cancer, you can also accelerate aging by getting too much exposure. Fortunately, your skin is continually replacing itself. Older skin cells, close to or on the surface are sloughed off and new skin cells are always being generated and move to the top. This is not something you notice but is ongoing on a daily basis. To maintain your skin’s health, in addition to limiting unprotected sun exposure, you need to stay hydrated to avoid dehydration.
Beneath the skin’s surface, all of your body’s cells depend on having enough water in them to ensure healthy organ function. Up to 60% of your body is made up of water, but can be much lower if you have a lot of fat cells. Even in that case, 45-50% is still water. Water ensures that all biochemical processes within your body proceed smoothly. You can live with no food for a week or more, but you cannot live without water for more than a few days. Beyond requiring oxygen, without which you cannot live more than a few minutes, water is literally the main part of your life blood.
So, what can you do to avoid dehydration and health issues?
First of all, drink plenty of water – You should take in enough to replenish what is lost through urination, sweating and cellular processes. Keep in mind that when you feel thirsty, it is already well past the point of adequate hydration. In general, for an average body size and build, drink about eight glasses of water a day at regular intervals. If you are sweating a lot, you may need more. Keep a reusable bottle of water around and know how much is in it. For example, if it is 16 ounces, you know you need to drink about 4 a day. If it contains 32 ounces, you are done after a few. The eight glasses is not a rule, it is a guideline. One way to tell if you are adequately hydrated is to look at the color of the urine. If it is clear, you are probably OK. If it is dark yellow, unless you are taking medications or vitamins (notably B complex) which discolor the urine, you are probably dehydrated.
If you can’t power down that much water, try eating foods that are rich with water. You don’t have to get all of your hydration from drinking water. Try berries, melons, and veggies like celery and carrots.
Drink cold water – Studies show that cold water may be absorbed faster and at the very least it feels better and cools your inner core. So, keep your water refrigerated if possible. If on the go, there are sports containers that contain a surrounding of ice or iced gel, which can keep the water cool for quite a while.
Avoid caffeine – Caffeine is a diuretic and can cause you to lose more water than you gain. So stay away from caffeinated sodas, coffee and tea for hydration purposes. If you want some taste to your water, add some lemon or a little juice or natural flavoring.
Avoid lots of salt – You body needs sodium and other electrolytes, but in larger quantities will increase thirst and cause water retention in your tissues where you do not need it. On the other hand, if you are sweating a lot from exercise and/or extreme temperatures keep in mind that you have to replace electrolytes to some extent. Gatorade is the first thing people think of, but it contains a lot of artificial ingredients which you may not want to take in. So, look for other electrolyte rich natural drinks. If you prefer to make your own it is not hard. Here is a basic recipe:
- 1 liter of water
- 1/4 cup of lime juice
- 1/4 cup of lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 whole squeezed orange (or a can of frozen non-sugar fortified OJ as second best)
For some of us, summer is seasonal. For others who live closer to the equator, a hot climate may be something experienced most of the year. Stay hydrated for optimal health.