In the midst of summer, temperatures are at a scorching high with extreme humidity, especially for us in the Chicagoland area. It’s important to work safe in these types of conditions especially if you’re outside. Keeping the body hydrated helps the heart more easily pump blood through the blood vessels to the muscles.
The amount of water each person needs depends on the climate, the amount of time spent in the heat, and what type of clothing you’re wearing. Generally speaking, the more you sweat, the more water you should drink. Also, if you travel a lot, you may sweat differently in various climates so make sure you drink plenty of water beforehand. According to Livescience, nutrients don’t only come in the form of food; water is the most important, and often most forgotten, nutrient. You can last for some time without food, but only days without water. Your lean body mass contains about 70% to 75% water, with fat containing much less: about 10% to 40% water.
1. Drink enough water to prevent thirst.
2. Monitor fluid loss by checking the color of your urine. It should be pale yellow and not dark yellow, too smelly or cloudy.
3. Any time you exercise or do physical labor in extreme heat for more than one hour, supplement water with a sports drink that contains electrolytes and 6% to 8% carbohydrates. This prevents “hyponatremia” (low blood sodium), which dilutes your blood and could also lead to serious impairment and death.
4. Begin exercise/work well-hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids the day before and within the hour before, during and after
5. Avoid alcohol the day before or the day of a long exercise bout, and avoid exercising with a hangover.
6. Consider all fluids, including tea, coffee, juices, milk and soups (though excluding alcohol, which is extremely dehydrating). The amount of caffeine in tea and coffee does not discount the fluid in them, even if they have a slight diuretic effect, according to the most recent report by the National Research Council’s Food and Nutrition Board.
7. Eat at least five cups of fruits and vegetables per day for optimum health, as they all contain various levels of water and the all-important nutrient potassium.
8. During exercise, for those who experience high sodium losses, eat salty foods in a pre-exercise meal or add an appropriate amount of salt to sports drinks consumed during exercise. Orange juice is high in potassium. Dilute juices, such as V-8 or orange juice, 50/50 with water so that the drinks are 6% carbohydrate solutions (the same as sports drinks), which will empty from your stomach quicker than 100 percent juice (juices are naturally 12% solutions), allowing the electrolytes and water to quickly reach your heart and organs.
9. Following strenuous work/ exercise, you need more protein to build muscle, carbohydrates to refuel muscle, electrolytes to replenish what’s lost in sweat, and fluids to help rehydrate the body. Low-fat chocolate milk is a perfect, natural replacement that fills those requirements.
10. You can also replace fluid and sodium losses with watery foods that contain salt and potassium, such as soup and vegetable juices.
Can’t Stand the Taste of Water?
Water is the best fluid to drink for most people. If you can’t stand the taste of water, adding fruit can help improve the flavor. Lemon, orange slices, or strawberries are an easy way to spice it up. Other ways of adding water to your diet include foods such as fruits and vegetables like oranges, watermelon, zucchini or bell peppers. John Batson, M.D, a sports medicine physician with Lowcountry Spine & Sport in Hilton Head Island, S.C., cautions against fruit juices or sugary drinks, such as soda. “They can be hard on your stomach if you’re dehydrated.”
Keeping the body hydrated helps the heart more easily pump blood through the blood vessels to the muscles. And, it helps the muscles work efficiently. “If you’re well hydrated, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard,” said Batson. Dehydration can be a serious condition that can lead to problems ranging from swollen feet or a headache to life-threatening illnesses such as heat stroke (heart.org).