“Dr Irena’s” Health Tips – No. 18
Irena Hulson is continuing with her series of health tips, which have been very well received by our readers, especially those who can relate to certain of the topics covered and we hope to receive and publish more in the future for your information. If there is a particular topic you would like to see published please let us know and we will ask Irena to see what she can find on the subject.
To see more “Dr Irena” Health Tips, please visit our Portfolio site by clicking here.
By Irena Hulson
Keeping hydrated during intense heat
The Institute of Medicine recommends that men get about 125 ounces of water daily and that women get 91 ounces, but that includes water from all foods and beverages. Most people get enough hydration unless they’re exposed to heat stress or they’re very active for a long time.
The average person gets about 20% of their water for the day from food. An apple is 84% water. Bananas are 74% water. Broccoli is 91% water. Even foods that you might not think of as moist — a plain bagel (33% water), ground beef (56%), cheese (39%) – all help.
It doesn’t take long to get dehydrated — especially in hot, humid weather. So don’t exercise hard outdoors when it’s too hot and humid. You’ll need to take longer breaks, shorten the workout or intensity level, and dress appropriately.
On average, you should take a rehydration break about every 20 minutes. Most people would stay adequately hydrated by drinking 5 to 10 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes. But your exact need depends on things like how hard you’re working, whether you are indoors or outdoors, and your age, gender, and weight. It is also helpful to drink two cups of fluids (about 16 ounces) about two hours before a workout.
Alcoholic beverages have the most dehydrating effect. Coffee and other caffeinated drinks do make you urinate more, but overall, they’re hydrating because of their water content. Juices, sodas, and other sweet drinks also are hydrating. Water is usually a better choice for hydration because it doesn’t have extra calories.
How much fluid you need depends upon several things, including:
- Age: Children need plenty of fluids; they can get dehydrated much more easily than adults. Older people may need more fluids because of health conditions or because they tend to lose their sense of thirst.
- Gender: Men need more fluids than women. (And pregnant women need more fluids than other women)
- Weight: Heavier people need more water.
- Health: Conditions such as diabetes, cystic fibrosis, and kidney disease can boost your need for fluids.
- Environment: You need more fluids in extreme weather conditions (especially hot, humid, or cold) and at high altitudes.
You lose about 10 or more cups of water every day just living: breathing, sweating, urinating, etc. Eating and drinking usually make up for it. Drink enough fluids to keep your urine a lighter colour. If your urine is clear or pale, chances are you are well hydrated. An easy way to monitor your hydration level is to check the colour of your urine. The darker your urine, the less hydrated you are.
Other practical ways to monitor your hydration status include keeping an eye on your body weight (you lose weight as you lose water) and perspiration (the more you perspire, the more water you’re losing).
Water could help with weight loss. Studies show that by drinking water, people tended to eat and drink fewer calories, probably because the water filled them up. As a result, they lost weight. Both studies were short-term, however, and it’s unknown if the results would have held up over a longer time.
Sodium is something your body needs when you’re trying to rehydrate, either during or after exercise. That’s why sports drinks are often rich in sodium — one of the “electrolytes” your body loses during exercise. Drinks and snacks with sodium also can trigger thirst and help you retain fluids, but too much salt can raise your blood pressure and worsen heart conditions in some people.
It is possible to drink too much water. Healthy kidneys in an adult can process anywhere from 20 to 1,000 milliliters of fluid per hour. It’s not easy to overload them, but it can happen. Getting too much water, especially in a short time, is dangerous. Symptoms of too much water include weight gain, bloating, nausea, and vomiting. Sudden cases of water intoxication can cause low blood sodium, which can result in headaches, confusion, seizures, and coma.
The International Marathon Medical Directors Association recommends that athletes drink no more than 31 ounces of water per hour during extended exercise.
Your body has water in every cell, tissue, and organ. It helps move nutrients, get rid of waste, keep your temperature at the right level, lubricate and cushion joints, keep your skin moisturized, and lots of other things.
Thirst is one of the first warning signals that you may be getting dehydrated. But don’t rely on thirst alone. Other early signs are fatigue, flushed skin, faster breathing and pulse rate, and having trouble exercising. Later signs include weakness, dizziness, and laboured breathing.
Water is usually enough to rehydrate, unless you’re exercising really hard or for a long time. Athletes tend to replace only about half of the fluid lost when they drink water. Sports drinks may replace more lost fluids because athletes enjoy the taste.
The human body is mostly water: about 55% to 75%, on average (and depending on how well hydrated you are). That’s about 10 to 12 gallons of water in your body!
Water makes up about 83% of blood, 73% of muscles, 25% of body fat, and 22% of bones.
Trying to lose weight? Water revs up metabolism and helps you feel full. Replace calorie-filled beverages with water, and drink a glass before meals to help you feel more full. Drinking more water helps amp up metabolism – especially if your glass is icy cold. Your body must work to warm the water up, burning a few extra calories in the process.
If you’re feeling drained and depleted, get a pick-me-up with water. Dehydration makes you feel tired. The right amount of water will help your heart pump your blood more effectively and water can help your blood transport oxygen and other essential nutrients to your cells.
About 70% to 80% of your brain tissue is water. If you’re dehydrated, your body and your mind are stressed. If you’re feeling thirsty, you’re already a little dehydrated. To keep stress levels down, keep a glass of water at your desk or carry a sports bottle and sip regularly.
Drinking water helps prevent muscle cramping and lubricates joints in the body.
When you’re well hydrated, you can exercise longer and stronger without “hitting the wall”.
Fine lines and wrinkles are deeper when you’re dehydrated. Water is nature’s own beauty cream. Drinking water hydrates skin cells and plumps them up, making your face look younger. It also flushes out impurities and improves circulation and blood flow, helping your skin glow.
Along with fibre, water is important for good digestion. Water helps dissolve waste particles and passes them smoothly through your digestive tract. If you’re dehydrated, your body absorbs all the water, leaving your colon dry and making it more difficult to pass waste.
The rate of painful kidney stones is rising. One of the reasons could be because people — including children — aren’t drinking enough water. Water dilutes the salts and minerals in your urine that form the solid crystals known as kidney stones. Kidney stones can’t form in diluted urine, so reduce your risk with plenty of water!
Most healthy adults get enough to drink by letting their thirst guide them but the exact amount you need depends on your size, level of activity, the weather, and your general health.
You may need more water if you exercise or sweat heavily.
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