The summer sun & heat is more than on its way! Flip flops, sunglasses & a tan are sure to permeate your life over the next few months. This means staying sun safe to prevent burns, sunstroke & heat exhaustion. Staying hydrated in hot weather can be an uphill battle, but these tips can prepare you for the upcoming summer months.
Rising mercury isn’t the only culprit for dehydration. While heat and sun exposure certainly promote sweating which ultimately causes a reduction in bodily fluids, dry weather, salt, caffeinated beverages including pop, alcohol and excessive protein consumption can all contribute to drying out.
Signs you’re dehydrated start with a feeling of thirst- if you feel thirsty you’re already dehydrated. Your body is two thirds made up of water, so when those levels are running low the moist parts of your body will show it first. Tightness in the skin, dry eyes & mouth are common symptoms. Muscle fatigue, lightheadedness or headache and when more severe muscle cramping, nausea, confusion and eventually organ failure leading to coma and death if your internal drought is left untreated.
Because you don’t consume fluids while you sleep hydrating yourself first thing in the morning should be a priority. Beginning the day with one or two cups of room temperature or warm (read: not hot) water with a slice of fresh lemon will not only help to replenish the moisture lost overnight but the alkaline lemon will also stimulate the digestive juices in the stomach. This will prepare the stomach for breakfast, the most important meal of the day!
There’s no shortage of products on the market claiming to rehydrate, replenish, supply you with electrolytes who knows what else. But do any of them actually do what they say they do? How many are just full of sugar, chemicals and artificial junk? Do we even need more than just straight up water?
Following a sweaty yoga class, a hot day spent at the lake or the morning after a night on the town a beverage that includes some enzymes and minerals to make up for what has been lost isn’t a bad idea. On an average day including three meals and without any overly dehydrating activities plain filtered water is likely sufficient. Filtering out any chlorine, fluoride or other harmful chemicals is always your best bet. At least 1.5 litres is suggested, but of course more is usually beneficial.
So what about the sweaty days ahead this summer? What kind of delicious hydrating drinks are actually good for you too?
- Coconut Water: The people of tropical coconut growing countries have known for years that the liquid from inside a young coconut has hydrating benefits. However the FDA has disallowed health claims to this traditional thirst quencher stating that the electrolyte levels are “not particularly high nor balanced”. Coconut water does have a higher electrolyte level than drinking plain water though, so it’s not without benefit. If you enjoy the taste of “Mother Nature’s sports drink” and drinking it will help you stay hydrated on hot days, feel free to make it your go-to.
- Wtrmln Wtr: A new product I’ve been hearing a lot about recently. The juice includes the rind as well as the flesh (no skin) of the melon and a splash of lemon juice. It has only a 45 day shelf life because it doesn’t include any preservatives & is instead high pressure processed. Cold pressed (enzymes in tact, check), no added sugar or flavours and 740mg of potassium “which is almost double what you’d get in a single banana” per 8oz bottle- sounds pretty promising but it’s currently only available in a select few markets in the US.
- “Sports Drinks”: You know the ones I’m talking about… that end in ‘ade’ but don’t start with ‘lemon’. Whether in ready-to-drink form or powdered these are full of junk. They may contain a specifically designed concoction of electrolytes that provide the ‘ideal’ rehydration solution but the unfavorable ingredients in these products far outweigh the benefit. My advice: stay away.
- Fruit Juices: The near definition of juicing is the removal of the fibre (and maybe the stem, pits, peel if applicable) from the whole fruit. Not to say that there isn’t any benefit from drinking your fruit but when the fibre is taken out the sugar all hits your blood stream at the same time causing an insulin spike and an eventual crash. Most fruit juice has just as much sugar as a can of pop. Throw an apple in the blender and have applesauce (no need to peel!) instead of apple juice, combine your favourite frozen berries with some unsweetened almond milk (and maybe a scoop of protein powder!) for a tasty “milkshake” or try a green juice instead of reaching for a carton of oj.
- The Other Stuff: There’s all kinds of other drinks out there, but even many of the little companies are owned by the big guys and often share the same ingredients, even when under a different name. Be sure to stay away from anything containing artificial sweeteners or flavours and anything brightly coloured as that usually indicates dyes in the product as well.
Whether you’re working hard or playing hard you need to stay hydrated and replenish what you lose. There are homemade electrolyte drink recipes galore on the internet as well. Going this route ensures that you know exactly what is going in it.
I like to hydrate with water alone and supplement with food sources such as a piece of fruit, a fruit & nut bar (I like these) or a protein shake (my favourite) after a good workout whether at the gym or a Saturday afternoon hike. On top of considering what you’re going to have after you’ve gotten sweaty plan ahead and fuel your body well beforehand. An easily digestible meal with some healthy fats (mmm, avocado) & carbohydrates with fibre (whole grains, fruit & vegetables) to provide lasting energy is ideal.
P.S. It’s also important to know that a feeling of thirst that does not resolve despite plenty of fluid intake can be a sign of diabetes, so be sure to make an appointment with your physician if you are experiencing this.