Healthy Living

Tips to stay hydrated during the summer

Mike Staggs of Poynette, Wis., fills his water bottle at a communal fountain in Sigourney during RAGBRAI on Friday, July
Mike Staggs of Poynette, Wis., fills his water bottle at a communal fountain in Sigourney during RAGBRAI on Friday, July 29, 2016. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

Up to 60 percent of an adult human body, and up to 75 percent of a child’s body, is made of water. Your body depends on water for survival. Adequate hydration is vital for your health and wellness in all stages of life.

Here are some tips to stay healthy during Iowa’s hot and humid summer months.

Immune function and hydration

Drinking adequate amounts of water helps to remove harmful bacteria and toxins, reducing your chances of getting sick. Being dehydrated reduces the overall volume of blood and lymphatic fluids that are essential in a healthy immune system response. Stay hydrated to help stay healthy.

Exercise and hydration

Exercising in hot weather puts extra stress on your body. Experts agree that staying hydrated is the No. 1 thing you can do to prevent heat related illnesses. When exercising in the heat, both the exercise and the air temperature increase your core body temperature. Be especially sure to pre-hydrate by drinking at least two to three cups of water two hours before exercise, and then another cup 10 minutes before exercise. Drink water every 15 minutes when exercising, even if you aren’t thirsty.

Kids and hydration

Hydration is vital for normal brain function, such as children’s level of attentiveness, memory retention and in maintaining healthy body weight. Encourage your child to adopt a healthy habit of drinking water and eating fruits and vegetables containing lots of water (cucumbers, watermelons, strawberries, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, oranges, apples, etc.). The amount of water a child needs to drink varies depending on age, weather conditions, physical activities and even gender. The recommended amount of daily fluid intake for kids: 5 glasses or 1 liter for 5- to 8-year-olds; 7 glasses or 1.5 liters for 9- to 12-year-olds and 8 to 10 glasses or 2 liters for children 13 years and older.

Elderly and hydration

As you age, the amount of total water in your body decreases as well as your ability to sense thirst, which means dehydration can come on quickly. Symptoms of dehydration in the elderly include dry mouth, little urination or very concentrated urine, sunken eyes, lethargy, low blood pressure, rapid heart rate and dry skin. If you suspect you or a loved one may be dehydrated, try drinking small amounts of water frequently. If your symptoms don’t improve, call your doctor. If water doesn’t sound appealing, try soups, fresh fruits, vegetables and ice pops.

Check your urine

It may not be the most glamorous way to check if you’re hydrated, but it could be the most telling. If your urine is a light, pale yellow color, then you are well hydrated. If your urine is a dark yellow or amber color, you are probably dehydrated.

Feeling thirsty

Once you start feeling thirsty, you’ve probably lost around 1 percent of your body water and are dehydrated. 1 percent may not seem like a lot, but with a 2 percent water loss, you could experience serious fatigue and cardiovascular impairments. Sip water throughout the day to avoid dehydration.

Signs or symptoms of heat related illnesses

Stop all activity and call for medical assistance if you develop an unusual headache, lose coordination, feel dizzy, develop muscle cramps, stop sweating or feel nauseous.

Maintaining a healthy weight, eating nutritious foods, exercising, proper hydration, adequate sleep and social distancing is your best defense against the coronavirus. Be healthy and stay healthy.

Kylie Alger is a certified wellness coach and co-owner of the Well-Woman: Body, Mind & Spirit. Comments: kylie@thewellwoman.org

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