Did you know that the human body is about 70% water? During hot weather, it’s more important than ever to replace this water when we sweat. The process of replacing fluid in the body is called hydration.
When we’re active, we use muscles. Muscles generate heat and the body responds with sweating to maintain a normal temperature. If we get dehydrated, we lose the ability to regulate body temperature and life-threatening heat injuries can follow.
Thirst is not a good indicator of hydration. Early symptoms of dehydration are headaches, dizziness or fainting, cold clammy skin, rapid heartbeat, nausea, drowsiness, loss of concentration, irritability, decreased performance, heavy sweating and muscle cramps.
Beyond heat cramps comes heat exhaustion and even heat stroke. All these stages of dehydration are dangerous and must be treated. If you have these symptoms, get out of the heat; drink water, juice or sports drinks (unless your doctor tells you otherwise); and get medical attention.
Water is always a good choice for fluid replacement. You should drink at least one pint every 30 minutes during activity and even more when it’s hot outside.
At a minimum, you should drink about eight glasses of water each day. Sports drinks are good, though the extra electrolytes may not be necessary for normal hydration.
Juice works but contains too much sugar to drink as your only source of hydration. Alcohol, energy drinks and coffee are not good hydrators because they work as diuretics in the body making you less hydrated.
Get a variety of liquids in your diet. Drink plenty of water and drink more when it’s hot outside. If you see any of the symptoms of heat injury, take action immediately. Don’t like plain water? Try infusing your water with fruit!