Keeping it cool and fluid this summer
Many people don’t realise that nutritional habits need to be adjusted seasonally and never more so over summer. We all need extra fluids during hot periods and nutritionist Aimee Matthews explains just how important this is.
Summer is a time to enjoy being outdoors with your friends, family or even alone with the company of a good read. But these few short months of fun are also not without their risks.
The importance of fluids for your health
Your body consists of between 60-70% water. Too little water and you could begin to experience problems linked to dehydration (listed below).
There are many reasons why people become dehydrated - a lot of the time people get caught out by the weather and find themselves walking around for long periods without water in the heat. Other excuses are that people simply forget to drink or by habit drink a little and then forget to adjust this in the hotter weather.
Keeping your fluids up is good for you in many ways:
- It's important for optimum kidney function by allowing the removal of toxins.
- It helps you keep a clear head and makes you feel more energetic and less irritable.
- It's also good for your tummy – fluid retention and a bloated belly are signs of dehydration, or too much salt in the diet, and can be overcome by drinking water, thereby slimming that waistline!
Symptoms of heat distress: As so much of your body contains water it is logical that the effects of dehydration can be serious, effecting you in a number of different ways. Here are some of the early symptoms of dehydration to watch out for:
- Profuse sweating
- Muscle cramps
- Dark urine
More severe symptoms of dehydration can include:
- Dizziness and light-headedness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Cool, moist skin
What to drink and how much over summer
The best thing for you to drink is pure water, and of course it’s free! If water is too bland for you, try squeezing some fresh lime or lemon juice to it (or a slice) and add a few ice cubes to make it extra refreshing.
You can also drink fruit juices/squash or hot drinks like herbal teas. Soft drinks such as lemonade and tea and coffee are okay, but do try to limit caffeinated and fizzy drinks as caffeine has diuretic effects and fizzy drinks are not especially thirst quenching.
The amount you need to drink on a hot summer’s day will depend on your level of activity but in general aim for at least 6-8 glasses (250ml) a day and about 3 litres if you are more active.
Hydration tips to keep you cool and fluid!
These tips are designed to make sure you get enough fluids during the day:
- Many people wake up feeling thirsty, listen to your body and have something to drink when you first get up in the morning. This will help you to feel more alert, making an early start at work more bearable.
- Drink something before, during and after exercising, especially in hot weather. Drink water every 15 minutes as you exercise. Use an isotonic drink to replace body electrolytes lost through sweat.
- Carry a water bottle with you during work hours and when you are away from home for long periods of time. It’s a good routine to get into and will prevent you breaking into a ten pound note for an over-priced bottle of water at a newsagent.
- Drink before you get really thirsty.
- Try to limit caffeinated and sugary beverages on really hot days. Caffeine acts as a diuretic and can cause you to lose fluids quickly. In addition to having extra calories, the fructose, or natural sugars in fruit juice can slow your body’s ability to absorb fluids.
- Monitor your fluid intake, factoring in foods. Many of the foods we eat contain water. Packing ready-to-eat fruits can be a great way to restore fluids and vitamins during outdoor activities.
If you are still worried about whether you are getting enough water, one simple and quick test is to check the colour of your urine. The paler and more straw-coloured your urine the better!
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