staying hydrated in hot weather
ON THE INSIDE
After months of trudging through winter snow and dodging springtime rain showers, it’s only natural to welcome the days of t-shirts, flip-flops and vitamin D-rich sunshine with open arms. But along with the brighter moods and fun outdoor activities, the hot, summer sun can also bring varying degrees of dehydration, which occurs when the amount of water leaving the body exceeds the amount taken in. An all-too-common hazard of summer, dehydration can result from excess heat exposure, inadequate replenishment after exercise, or a poor diet (particularly one high in alcohol, caffeine or sugar). And the resulting vitamin, mineral and electrolyte deficiencies can leave you with a host of problems ranging from headaches, cramps, and low blood pressure to more serious issues like kidney failure, seizures or life-threatening heatstroke. Every bit as essential to life as the air we breathe, all 37.2 trillion of your cells require water to function. On the flipside, if you’re dehydrated, every cell will suffer. Your body interprets this suffering as a form of stress, resulting in an overstimulated nervous system and a cascade of hormones flooding your system, contributing to imbalances from head to toe. Be sure to consume eight 8-ounce glasses each day at a minimum, re-hydrating with an additional glass for every 15-30 minutes of exercise, depending on intensity and heat.
ON THE OUTSIDE
How can you tell if you’re dehydrated? For starters, you’ll be thirsty. In fact, thirst is a sign that you’re already dehydrated, so drink enough water to avoid becoming thirsty in the first place. Other signs and symptoms include dry mouth or eyes, weakness, lightheadedness, nausea, and dark, concentrated urine. Fatigue, constipation, and dry skin are also signs of chronic dehydration that are all too common, regardless of the season. Besides increasing your water consumption, consider these additional suggestions to avoid dehydration this summer: 1. Eat your water. This means consuming plenty of vegetables and fruit naturally high in water content, such as peppers, cucumbers, watermelon, strawberries, broccoli and cantaloupe. Fortunately, these are also popular food choices among children who, along with the elderly, are particularly susceptible to dehydration. 2. Supplement. Although supplementation is not a substitute for a healthy, balanced diet, the reality is that poor nutrition and chronic stress deplete our bodies of the nutrients necessary to sustain optimal health. To replenish electrolytes and get a boost of vitamins and minerals, try Ester-C® Energy Boost. Packing a flavourful punch in easy to carry, single-size packets, they’re perfect to bring to work, the gym, the beach, or anywhere else. 3. Avoid food and drinks that are dehydrating. Caffeinated sports drinks and alcohol, both typically high in sugar, are common summer culprits. As diuretics, they also increase urination, further contributing to dehydration in those already overheated from exercise or warm weather. If you must consume these beverages, add 1 glass of water for every serving of caffeine, wine, beer and alcohol.