Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Health
Staying hydrated in summer heat
The summer heat has arrived. Susan Mills-Gray, nutrition and health education specialist with University of Missouri Extension, says that staying hydrated is crucial to staying healthy when the intense Midwest heat and humidity arrives.
“We don’t think about water being a critical nutrient for health, but it is. Dehydration can make you fatigued and hinder work and sports performance,” she says.
Eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day is adequate for most people. Water isn’t the only fluid that will meet the daily water requirements. Almost any nonalcoholic fluid will do: juice, coffee or tea (decaffeinated is best), lemonade, soups and milk. Many fruits and vegetables also add fluid to the diet. Watermelon is 90 percent water, so it ranks highest on the list. Other excellent choices include: oranges, grapefruit, cantaloupe, honeydew, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers and romaine lettuce.
Conversely, alcohol is a dehydrator. Try to limit alcohol intake, but if you are going to raise a glass, aim for at least a one-to-one ratio with water.
The simplest way to gauge hydration is to check the color of your urine. If your urine is dark (like the color of apple juice), you need to drink more fluids. A properly hydrated person’s urine should be pale yellow (resembling weak lemonade). To be safe, always drink a little more than what is required to quench your thirst.
Young children and older adults often have poor functioning thirst mechanisms, so be mindful of these two groups during intense waves of heat.
Many times we think that sweating leads to dehydration, but sweating is actually a good sign. It’s the body’s way of getting rid of heat while maintaining a constant internal temperature of about 98.6 degrees F. During hard work, your muscles generate 20 times more heat than when you are at rest, which causes sweating. As sweat evaporates, it cools the skin. This then cools the blood, which cools the inner body.
Just remember that if you are sweating, that precious fluid needs to be replaced. Next time you leave the house, don’t forget your water bottle!
Last update: Monday, July 13, 2015