Never Wait To Feel Thirsty Before You Hydrate
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, J.D., Founder
Hiking is one of my favorite ways to get outside and get some exercise, but lately I have been extremely cautious due to the heat. It does not take long for dehydration and heatstroke to take over.
Recently in Phoenix, Arizona, the fire department had to execute multiple mountain rescues for hikers who became overheated and dehydrated. One of the rescues involved a 33-year-old man who became dehydrated, and “...was in shape and well-accustomed to hiking in summer but still succumbed to the heat,” according to this report.
“A lot of people don’t understand the heat," said Captain Scott Douglass of the Phoenix Fire Department, who was referenced in the report.
"They don’t realize that if they start hiking at 8 a.m. when the heat is bearable, within a few hours the heat can become well over 110 degrees and that becomes a dangerous situation.”
It’s also not just hikers and outdoor sports enthusiasts who have to be careful. One can easily become dehydrated lounging by the pool (especially if sipping cocktails) or by mowing the lawn or gardening.
According to a recent report, if you are thirsty you are already dehydrated. If you are planning on spending time outdoors, it is highly recommended to drink water while inside before starting these outdoor activities.
“When the body becomes dehydrated, it works to retain fluids lost through sweating by decreasing urinary output. Constipation also can result as the body works to retain water. Dehydration also involves the cardiovascular system, resulting in decreased blood pressure and increased pulse,” the report states.
Water is one of the six basic nutrients you need to live. The others are protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. But water is the only nutrient where absence will cause death within days.
“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,” according to the Cleveland Clinic.
I previously blogged about the tragic story of a young football player who died of heatstroke at just 32-years-old. Reportedly, he was working outside in 90-something degree weather and was drinking a lot of water but not enough electrolytes.
"Food intake can also be counted as hydration, because it includes carbohydrates and sodium [which is both an electrolyte and mineral] that you need to maintain hydration," said Dr. Irvin Sulapas, a sports medicine physician referenced in the Medical Xpress report mentioned earlier.
Watermelon which, hence the name, is very rich in water is a great snack for the heat not only because it is hydrating but because it also contains potassium (another electrolyte).
So much of our bodies are made of water, which explains why it is such an important nutrient. To give you a bit more perspective, “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, “ reports the Cleveland Clinic.
Water helps regulate body temperature, deliver oxygen throughout the body, balances the body’s chemicals and so much more. Being dehydrated may even alter your brain shape.
How to be proactive about hydration.
If you are not already diligent about drinking water, it’s time to step up your efforts and get drinking! Drinking water first thing in the morning is a great way to start your day off and get your body hydrated. Keep a reusable water bottle with you at all times. Add herbs, like mint, to give your water more flavor. You can also add berries to flavor your water.
In addition to eating watermelon, you can snack on cucumbers for hydration and nutrients. As a general rule of thumb, fresh fruits and vegetables have a higher water content than most foods.
I know it’s not sexy, but get in the habit of checking the color of your urine. Very yellow or almost brown urine may be a sign of dehydration. If you have a headache, that may also be a sign that you are dehydrated.
And, again, do not wait to feel thirsty before you drink water.
Enjoy your healthy life!
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or another competent healthcare practitioner to get specific medical advice for your situation.
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.