Summertime is always the best time of the year to enjoy being outdoors — whether it is going to the beach, ball games and parks, or doing other kinds of activities outside. However, before we start enjoying summer, keep in mind the importance of staying properly hydrated.
Hydration is always important, but especially in hot and humid weather, as we tend to lose a lot of our body fluids through sweat. The reason dehydration becomes a threat to our bodies is because the body is made up of more than 60 percent water. When the levels of body fluids decrease, our body is in great harm.
There are many different beverages and foods that can be consumed to ensure proper hydration. Not all beverages will help with hydration.
In other words not all beverages are created equally. Water is the best fluid to ensure hydration, as it keeps the body cool.
If doing moderate to high intensity exercise or prolonged time in the sun, it is important to consume water, as well as beverages containing electrolytes such as sodium and potassium.
Low calorie sports drinks or coconut water is great options to help replace the sodium and potassium lost in sweat. But it is also important to not just consume sport drinks because these beverages also can be harmful to our bodies.
Other beverages to avoid when trying to become hydrated are the following: alcohol and caffeinated beverages such as coffee, teas and sodas. These beverages actually will place you at greater risk of dehydration because they pull fluids from your body.
Fruit juices also should be avoided because they can cause stomach issues due to the high sugar content and, if the person is already dehydrated, these beverages can actually worsen stomach discomfort such as diarrhea. If you consume juices, you should consider applying 50/50 rule of adding to 50 percent of water and 50 percent of juice.
Certain foods can help with hydration because they contain high amounts of water. These foods include cucumber, tomatoes, green peppers, cauliflower, iceberg lettuce, watermelon, star fruit, strawberries, and cantaloupe.
Thirst is your body’s way of telling you it’s dehydrated. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends active people consume at least 16 to 20 ounces of fluids, one to two hours before outdoor activity. After activity, you should consume six to 12 ounces of fluids every 10 to 15 minutes that you are outside.
When you are done with any physical activity, you should replace what was lost. It is recommended to weigh yourself before beginning any activity or being in the sun, and once again when you are done. For every pound lost, the American Heart Association recommends it is replaced with one pint of fluids. The best way to measure hydration is based on the color of our urine. The more pale and clear color it is, the less fluids will be needed. If the urine is yellow, it is recommended you keep drinking water.
Linette V. de Armas, RD, LD/N, is a pediatric registered dietitian at Holtz Children’s Hospital at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center. For more information on Holtz Children’s Hospital, call 305-585-KIDS or visit www.HoltzChildrensHospital.org.