Dr. Keith Kantor
Staying hydrated is vitally important especially during the scorching summer months. Doing so will help you avoid exhaustion, dizziness, muscle cramps and headaches, while contributing to a beautiful summer glow for your skin and overall energy.
You’ve probably heard that you should aim to consume at least half your body weight in ounces of water each day. For example a 150-pound person should consume 75 ounces of water each day. In the warmer summer months, you may need to boost that number to somewhere between 3-5 liters, depending on your activity level and time outdoors.
The human body is composed of approximately 60% water. It is our main nutrient transport pathways, if you are dehydrated your nutrients have to travel through sludge and most likely will not function as they were intended.
Water serves a number of essential functions to keep us all going:
- A vital nutrient to the life of every cell, acts first as a building material.
- It regulates our internal body temperature through sweating and respiration
- The carbohydrates and proteins that our bodies use as food are metabolized and transported by water in the bloodstream;
- It assists in flushing waste mainly through urination
- Acts as a shock absorber for the brain, spinal cord, and fetus
- Forms saliva
- Lubricates joints
Signs that you may be dehydrated
Thirst isn’t always a reliable early indicator of the body’s need for water. Many people, particularly older adults, don’t feel thirsty until they’re already dehydrated. That’s why it’s important to increase water intake during hot weather or when you’re ill.
The signs and symptoms of dehydration also may differ by age. Pay attention to the color of your urine, if it is dark yellow or brownish in color you may already be dehydrated, if it is light yellow to clear your body is most likely hydrated.
- Extreme thirst
- Less frequent urination
- Dark-colored urine
Dehydration and Exercise Performance
A 2-5% dehydration level can result in a decreased performance of 30%. It is especially important to ensure you are adequately hydrated at long sporting events, in the hot sun such as a tennis match, baseball game, swim meet, or triathlon. Aim to consume about 2 cups of water per 45 minutes of activity. If the event is longer then 2 hours consider adding a dash of sea salt to boost electrolyte sodium and white grape juice or coconut water for potassium.
Signs that your performance may be affected by dehydration include:
Having a hard time focusing
Not urinating for long periods of time
Decreased production of sweat
The main reasons dehydration has an adverse effect on exercise performance can be summarized as follows:
- Reduction in blood volume
- Decreased skin blood flow
- Decreased sweat rate
- Decreased heat dissipation
- Increased core temperature
- Increased rate of muscle glycogen use
Stick to plain water.
Juice, soda, even sports drinks do not count as water. It is best to drink plain water for the best hydration results. Non-calorie sweeteners can still slightly raise insulin levels. Insulin spikes are a major contribution to weight gain. The brain and pancreas still sense something sweet even if it is sugar free. Studies have shown that those who consume non-calorie sweetened sodas and juices have a harder time controlling their appetite. Hydroxide alkaline water is the best due to increased oxygen level in water, it is easier to maintain hydration levels. It also reduces acidity which causes acidosis which causes inflammation.
A healthy alternative to plain water is infusing your plain water with fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs. Cucumber and lemon water is a commonly served in spas, other nutrition packed combinations include strawberry and basil, orange and lime, blackberry and mint. There is several water infused recipes that can be found online.
Coffee, tea, sodas and alcohol can actually dehydrate you if consumed in excess. If you drink 1-2 cups of coffee in the morning make sure that you also have 1-2 cups of water along with it. The diuretic effects of coffee can actually produce acid in the body, which is dangerous for those who are even slightly dehydrated.
Supplement your water consumption with these hydrating foods.
If you can just not fathom sipping that much water throughout the course of a day, choose some of these following super hydrating foods to help you hit your goal. They are all comprised of over 90 percent water!
Strategies to ensure your are drinking your recommended daily water consumption
- Carry a water bottle that you enjoy drinking out of; believe it or not this helps. There are so many containers that have witty and motivation quotes on them, it makes drinking the water more enjoyable. Cumbersome containers are less likely to be drunk out of.
- Drink out of a straw, behavioral studies prove we tend to consume more through a straw especially a fat “smoothie” straw.
- Drink at least 2 cups of water between meals.
- Infuse plain water with fresh fruit in a large dispenser; keep it in fridge so it is ready to drink all of the time.
- If you are out drinking alcohol at a party or bar alternate the alcoholic beverage with a cup of water. This will control the amount of alcohol that you drink and will reduce the possibility of getting dehydrated.
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