by Nicole Andrews
They don’t call it the Sunshine State for nothing! With temperatures reaching an all-time high this summer, it is extremely important that we keep ourselves well-hydrated. Several groups most at risk for dehydration include children, athletes, exercisers, outdoor workers and
elderly people. It might not seem like it, but water is the most important nutrient to all living things, including us. Water is so necessary that people can’t survive for more than a few days without it.
Water makes up more than half of the weight of our body and is involved in many important functions. Water carries nutrients and wastes to and from our cells and organs, keeps food moving through our digestive system, is involved in regulating our body temperature, lubricates the body’s joints and much more. Therefore, it is extremely important to give our body the water it needs to carry out all its different functions. On a regular day, your body loses up to two liters of water. Living in a tropical climate, it is extremely important to recognize the common signs of dehydration. Reach for water if you feel any of the following symptoms: Thirst (by the time you reach the point of thirst, your body has already lost two or more cups of water); irritability; flushed, dry or itchy skin; lack of concentration; indigestion; constipation; headaches; weakness; dizziness; cramps; nausea.
Here are a few helpful hints to beat the summer heat and keep hydrated:
• Drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of water each day. The more active you are, the more water you need to replace lost fluids.
• Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink water (by that time, your body is already screaming signs of dehydration).
• Carry a bottle of water with you at all times. For a cool drink, fill one-fourth of bottle with 100% juice and freeze, then fill up the remainder with water. Cold water is also absorbed more quickly from the stomach.
• Don’t substitute beverages with alcohol or caffeine. These act as diuretics and can actually take water out of your system.
• You can also meet your fluid needs from fruits, vegetables, herbal and decaffeinated teas and seltzers. Avoid most juices – they are way too high in sugar and will leave you feeling even thirstier in the long run.
• If you are active, or suffer from frequent diarrhea, consider drinking diluted, high quality sports drinks or coconut water. These can replace important electrolytes such as potassium and sodium that are lost in sweat.
• Encourage children to drink water and juice instead of cola drinks.
• Don’t let one hour pass without drinking fluids.
• Having a hard time chugging down just plain old water? Try these simple tips: Jazz up your aqua with a strawberry, lemon, lime or frozen blueberries. Put a tea bag in a pitcher of ice water and let it flavor your water (try herbal, fruity teas or peppermint). Try sparkling water with a tad of cranberry juice and a splash of lime.
Don’t let dehydration get the best of you this summer. Feel your best and get the most out of the summer, sun and fun by staying well hydrated with these simple tips. Bottoms up!
Nicole Andrews offers a lifestyle medicine program that has been scientifically proven to improve body composition and lab parameters. Sessions include education and coaching on diet, supplements, lifestyle habits and body composition testing. Andrews accepts Medicare and most private insurances. To schedule an appointment, call 954-489-1345. See ad page 57.