Dehydration is the absence of a sufficient amount of water in your body. The best way to beat dehydration is to drink before you get thirsty. If you’re thirsty, you’re already mildly dehydrated, and that can cause symptoms like headache, fatigue, dizziness and more. Dehydration can contribute to life-threatening illnesses like heatstroke.
What is dehydration?
Warm weather brings with it thoughts of cool ocean breezes, napping in a hammock and sipping a tall glass of lemonade. Now hold on to the mental image of that lemonade because summer is also a time to be wary of dehydration: the lack of sufficient water in your body, specifically in your cells and blood vessels. Even losing a little bit, as little as 1.5% of your body’s water, can cause symptoms. Those symptoms can be as simple as a slight headache, or the dehydration could contribute to a life-threatening illness like heatstroke (hyperthermia).
Your body’s natural response to inadequate hydration is thirst. You should respond to thirst right away by drinking fluids – preferably water. Drink enough water to prevent yourself from feeling thirsty! Water has zero calories!
What does water do for your body?
Between about 55% to about 78% of your body is made of water. Newborn babies are about 78% water, a year-old baby is 65%, adult men are about 60% and adult women are about 55%. Your brain is made up of 73% water, and so is your heart. Your bones are 31% water, muscles and kidneys are 79% and your skin is 64%. A whopping 83% of water makes up your lungs.
- Aid digestion and get rid of waste.
- Work your joints. Water lubricates them.
- Make saliva (which you need to eat).
- Balance your body’s chemicals. Your brain needs it to create hormones and neurotransmitters.
- Deliver oxygen all over your body.
- Cushion your bones.
- Regulate your body temperature.
Act as a shock absorber for your brain, your spinal cord and, if you’re pregnant, your fetus.
Water is important to your body, especially in warm weather. It keeps your body from overheating. When you exercise, your muscles generate heat. To keep from burning up, your body needs to get rid of that heat. The main way the body discards heat in warm weather is through sweat. As sweat evaporates, it cools the tissues beneath. Lots of sweating reduces the body’s water level, and this loss of fluid affects normal bodily functions. Drink water!
Dehydration occurs when your body loses significant amount of fluids along with essential salts and minerals. Don’t take it lightly, it might even be associated with something more serious.
But during summer, dehydration is quite different. It occurs mainly because you fail to recover the loss of fluids caused by profuse sweating as a result of increased external temperature. Here are some tips that can help you prevent dehydration while the heat is on:
1. Drink sufficient water: No matter how much you avoid it, you’re bound to lose some amount of fluid through sweating during summer. So drinking adequate water is the first thing you need to keep in mind in order to stay away from dehydration. Some experts suggest drinking 6-8 glasses of water every day. But remember fluid requirement varies from person to person depending on factors like height, weight, physical activity and the type of region you live in. You can try calculators at these websites: water requirement calculator at csgnetwork.com and waterintakecalculator.com.
2. Avoid diuretics: Diuretics are substances or foods that increase the production of urine, which in turn results in loss of fluids from the body. Popular diuretics include caffeine containing beverages like coffee, cola and chocolate.
3. Avoid spicy foods: Apart from giving you other health problems like acidity and heart burn, spicy food also contributes to loss of body fluids by increasing the internal body temperature. But avoiding spicy food for preventing sweating in summer is debatable. Some experts suggest it’s good to have spicy food because it reduces the gap between internal and external temperature and gives a cooler feeling later on.
4. Eat food high in potassium: Dehydration doesn’t mean just loss of water. Along with water, your body loses a huge amount of electrolytes which you need to replenish. You need to eat potassium-rich foods including bananas, pineapples, sweet potatoes, coconut water and mangoes.
5. Avoid excessive exertion: Some amount of physical activity is no doubt important to stay fit. But exerting yourselves during summer can be dangerous, especially if you don’t keep rehydrating yourself by taking water-breaks in between.
6. Stay indoors: This is the best way to prevent dehydration. Direct exposure to the sun naturally causes you to sweat more. When you sweat more, you lose fluids from your body and become dehydrated. So, avoid going out in the afternoon when the temperature reaches its peak.
7. Wear light, loose fitting clothes: Darker shades tend to absorb more heat causing to sweat more, while tight fitting clothes prevents external cool down essential for your body to regulate temperature internally. So, choose lighter shades while going out in the sun. Wear loose fitting pants, preferably cotton.
8. Practice yoga: Yoga is relaxing and has the ability to calm down the nerves that signal excessive sweating due to increase in external temperature.
9. Say no to cigarettes and alcohol: Cigarette smoke dries up the lining of the throat and causes the cells to become dehydrated. It also with brain signals that induce thirst, so you don’t feel like drinking water. Alcohol, on the other hand, is a diuretic. It dehydrates the cells lining your throat and stomach. It also affects the liver cells and can lead to sever dehydration.
STAY HYDRATED STAY FRESH