Summer Heat and Dehydration
Summer Heat and Dehydration
It’s summer time and even though San Francisco is cold most of the summer, the rest of the bay area isn’t. In fact its pretty common to get up into the 80’s most days and some days its hotter than that.
Is it normal to feel more tired and achey after a long hot day? Are you more prone to headaches, swelling, and loss of appetite? You might be experiencing mild forms of dehydration.
Everyone has a higher need for water and fluids when the weather is hot. It isn’t just water that’s important. Electrolytes, or salts, get depleted as much as water through sweat, urination, and bowel movements.
The body can only absorb about one quart of water per hour. If you try to drink too much all at once, you will develop electrolyte problems. At its worst, you can develop seizures or even die. A milder case would cause a headache, nausea, lightheadedness, muscle cramps, or diarrhea. You might also feel confused or unable to think clearly.
On a normal day, you get enough salts in your diet. The kidneys then balance the electrolytes by filtering at different rates. After extreme physical activity, if you are ill, or on a hot day, your body needs more fluids and electrolytes.
There are two levels of staying hydrated for good health. Make sure that you keep drinking the required daily amount of room temperature water even on days you think you aren’t sweating a lot. Note that I said room temperature water. Ice water can make it harder for your stomach to absorb the water. In Chinese medicine, it is said that ice water, freezes your stomach. Imagine the stomach like a pot that cooks food. If it has no fire, it won’t work. On days of extreme physical activity, have a camel back pack filled with water and electrolyte solution. Sip on it throughout the day.
The general rule of thumb is that you should drink eight glasses of water each day for proper nutrition. If you are a healthy adult that is okay. Sometimes you need more water, sometimes you need less. Its tricky because when you’re dehydrated you sometimes stop being thirsty. A 150-pound person might need nine and a half glasses of water per day. A 220 pound person would need about fourteen glasses per day. The sport bottles people often buy contain about four cups of water. Most people would need more than two bottles per day.
Gatorade is one well known electrolyte solution but it has a lot of chemicals in it. The latest craze is to drink coconut water because it is full of electrolytes and it isn’t made with chemicals. You can also get other electrolyte solutions in powder form, such as EMerGenC, or a new one, Nuun – a sugar free drink. Or you can make your own electrolyte drink – by mixing water, a little sea salt, oranges or lemons, or bananas, and strawberries – doesn’t that sound healthier and tastier than Gatorade?
Dr. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj discovered the healing powers of water 21 years ago when he was serving time as a political prisoner in an Iranian jail. Water was the only medicine he had access to while in prison. Wouldn’t it be great if some of the illnesses you have could be prevented or treated by doing something as simple as drinking water properly?