Staying hydrated through summer

With the hot weather here to stay, it is so important to make sure that we remain properly hydrated, it especially important for young children, the older population and those with chronic health issues. You may well wonder why is it so important to keep well hydrated?

Our bodies are made up of about 70 per cent fluids including water, nearly every cell in our bodies is bathed in fluid, including our brain. Most of the chemical reactions in our bodies require fluids so that they can take place and fluids also help to transmit nerve impulses throughout our body. Quite simply, without fluids, we cannot survive. So, this week, I will look at the facts, signs, and symptoms of dehydration and discuss three simple daily habits that will ensure that you and your loved ones remain well hydrated throughout the hot summer.

To start, it is important to understand that sweating is the body’s way of keeping our core temperature at a constant 37 degree celsius. Our body is constantly striving to maintain a balance of fluids, therefore any lost through sweating need to be replaced. When the weather gets hot and humid we all tend to slow down a little as we adapt to the heat, however, when people start to feel tired, hot, thirsty and a sluggish, they will often associate this with the heat, when in fact these are often signs of dehydration. Another fact with dehydration is that it has a cumulative effect, other signs such as headaches, lightheadedness, and nausea, maybe build up over several days and can result in people feeling quite unwell. A simple way of knowing if someone is dehydrated is by the colour of their urine. Clear or almost clear urine is a good indication that a person is well hydrated. The more dehydrated a person becomes, the more their body will work to preserve what fluids it has and the darker their urine will be. If you have elderly parents or young children, it is important to know that they can become dehydrated without feeling thirsty.

Dehydration can easily be prevented, with these simple tips. Firstly, when you wake in the morning drink a glass of water, as this will help to replace the fluids you lost during the night. For those that do not like drinking plain water, adding fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, watermelon, cucumber, or ginger as these will flavour the water and you get the added benefits of some extra vitamins and nutrients. Soda water is another option for those who do not like plain water.

Eating more fruits and vegetables is a great way to increase your fluid intake.

Secondly, adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet is also a great way to increase your fluid intake. Foods such as spinach, celery, cucumber, zucchini, watermelon, cantaloupe melon, oranges and strawberries, are high in water content and when it is really hot it is so refreshing to eat something cool like a salad or lukewarm soup. This gazpacho recipe is one of my favourites during the summer, as I make it the morning so that it has all day for the flavours to come through.

Thirdly, smoothies are an excellent option, as they combine the first two! They are so easy to make and will provide you not only with fluids but the fibre, vitamins, and minerals which our bodies need daily. You can do a combination of ice cubes and water for those looking for a crunchier texture.

If you are very active during hot weather you may want to consider drinking an electrolyte rehydration tablet/sachet, as you sweat much more than you normally would and as a result, you will lose electrolytes (salts) through your sweat and these are needed by the body for many chemical reactions. You can also give them to teenagers who have spent a long time in the heat and who have not been drinking enough, just check the packaging for instructions. These sachets/tablets can be found in most drug stores, you can always ask the pharmacist for more information. 

When out in the sun, make sure that you have some for protection for your head such as a baseball cap or a hat if you are going out for a long time make sure that you have some form of hydration with you, such as oranges or a flask of water, maybe with the electrolyte mixture. If you do find yourself dehydrated, you might want to reduce your coffee and alcohol intake as both are diuretics (making you pee) so this will only compound the problem.

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Header Photo: Maria Di Lorenzo, Unsplash