When the heat is on, it’s important to stay cool and hydrated.
Evaporated sweat helps keep our bodies at the right temperature range to function well. When it gets too hot or humid, evaporation slows and it is hard for our bodies to keep up.
Our bodies are 60% water and when we lose or use more fluid than we consume, we start to have problems. Mild overheating and dehydration may lead to feeling dizzy, headaches, fatigue, muscle cramps and upset stomach or constipation. More severe dehydration may lead to confusion and heart and kidney problems.
Beat the heat and stay hydrated the healthy way:
1. Meet your hydration goals
For women, the amount of total water needed is about 11.5 cups per day and for men about 15.5 cups. Teens should aim for 10 and 14 cups, those 9-13 years old should aim for 9 and 10 cups, and children ages 4-8 should get at least 7 cups.
These estimates include fluids consumed from both foods and beverages, including water. Foods can give you about 20% of your fluid needs. Keep in mind, however, that you may need more if you are sweating a lot or exercising.
2. Focus on high water content foods
These are foods that are at least 85% water. They include:
- Fruits: strawberries, mango, melon, grapes, peaches, apples and pineapples
- Vegetables: green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, lettuce, peppers, tomatoes and pickles
- Dairy: low-fat milk, yogurt
3. Limit sweetened beverages that add empty calories
Make infused waters with fruits and herbs like strawberry basil or watermelon mint. Or try a batch of iced tea with lemon or sparkling water.
4. Think frozen treats
Freeze fruit to snack on through the day or make your own 100% juice popsicles.
5. Use the color check system for gauging hydration
If your urine is dark, you are dehydrated. But if it is lighter, you are doing OK. Think lemonade over apple juice color.
6. Avoid alcohol
Alcohol acts as a diuretic and will make you more dehydrated.
7. Salt can be your friend
If you are a heavy sweater or a salty sweater, you may need extra salt to stay properly hydrated.
Also, salt can help increase thirst to get you to drink more water and stay hydrated. This can be helpful, especially if you don’t feel like drinking more.
Try a low-calorie sports drink, eating some pickles, or add a bit of salt to your fresh veggies.
8. Moderate caffeine intake
While caffeine is not as much of a dehydrating culprit as once thought, caffeine consumption should still be limited to 400 milligrams per day to stay in a healthy range.
9. Exercise at the right times
Exercise during the cooler hours in morning or night, or in an air-conditioned space or cool basement. While exercising, drink 4-8 ounces of water every 15 minutes. If you are exercising more than 60 minutes, use a sports drink.
10. Weigh yourself
Weigh yourself before and after exercise or activity. For each pound lost, you need to drink 3 cups of water afterwards to make up for the sweat lost.
Two to four hours before exercise or activity outside, try to drink at least 10% of your body weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, drink 15 ounces.