The best way to beat dehydration is to drink before you get thirsty. But did you know that some beverages are better than others at preventing dehydration?
What does water do for the body?
Warm weather brings with it thoughts of cool ocean breezes, napping at our Escape Resort and sipping a tall glass of lemonade. Now hold on to the mental image of that lemonade because summer is also a time to be wary of dehydration: the lack of sufficient water in the body.
Water is important to the body at all times, but especially in warm weather. It keeps the body from overheating. When you exercise, your muscles generate heat. To keep from burning up, your body needs to get rid of that heat. The main way the body discards heat in warm weather is through sweat. As sweat evaporates, it cools the tissues beneath. Lots of sweating reduces the body’s water level and this loss of fluid affects normal bodily functions.
How to avoid dehydration
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, to avoid dehydration, active people should drink at least 16- 20 ounces of fluid one to two hours before an outdoor activity. After that, you should consume 6 to 12 ounces of fluid every 10 to 15 minutes that you are outside. When you are finished with the activity, you should drink more. How much more? To replace what you have lost: at least another 16 to 24 ounces (2- 3 cups).
One way to make sure you are properly hydrated is to check your urine. If it’s clear, pale or straw-colored, it’s OK. If it’s darker than that, keep drinking!
Beverages: some hydrate, others dehydrate…
Some beverages are better than others at preventing dehydration. Water is all you need if you are planning to be active in a low or moderate intensity activity, such as walking, for only an hour or less. If you plan to be exercising longer than that, or if you anticipate being out in the sun for more than a few hours, you may want to hydrate with some kind of sports drink. These replace not only fluid, but also chemicals like sodium and potassium, which are lost through perspiration. Too much or too little sodium and potassium in the body can cause trouble. Muscle cramping may be due to a deficiency of electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium.
Alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, teas and colas are not recommended for optimal hydration. These fluids tend to pull water from the body and promote dehydration. Fruit juice and fruit drinks may have too many carbohydrates, too little sodium, and may upset the stomach. If you’re going to drink fruit juices while exercising, you may try diluting them with 50% fruit juice and 50% water first.
Adequate hydration will keep your summer activities safer and much more enjoyable. If you need to increase your fluid intake, keep an extra pitcher of water with fresh lemons, limes, or cucumber in the refrigerator.
What are some additional benefits of keeping hydrated?
- It lubricates the joints. Cartilage, found in joints and the disks of the spine, contains around 80 percent water. Long-term dehydration can reduce the joints’ shock-absorbing ability, leading to joint pain.
- It forms saliva and mucus. Saliva helps us digest our food and keeps the mouth, nose, and eyes moist. This prevents friction and damage. Drinking water also keeps the mouth clean. Consumed instead of sweetened beverages, it can also reduce tooth decay.
- It delivers oxygen throughout the body. Blood is more than 90 percent water, and blood carries oxygen to different parts of the body.
- It boosts skin health and beauty. With dehydration, the skin can become more vulnerable to skin disorders and premature wrinkling.
- It cushions the brain, spinal cord, and other sensitive tissues. Dehydration can affect brain structure and function. It is also involved in the production of hormones and neurotransmitters.
- It regulates body temperature. Water that is stored in the middle layers of the skin comes to the skin’s surface as sweat when the body heats up. As it evaporates, it cools the body. In sport.
- The digestive system depends on it. The bowel needs water to work properly. Dehydration can lead to digestive problems, constipation, and an overly acidic stomach.
- It helps to maintain blood pressure. A lack of water can cause blood to become thicker, increasing blood pressure.
- The airways need it. When dehydrated, airways are restricted by the body in an effort to minimize water loss. This can make asthma and allergies worse.
- It makes minerals and nutrients accessible. These dissolve in water, which makes it possible for them to reach different parts of the body.
- It prevents kidney damage. The kidneys regulate fluid in the body. Insufficient water can lead to kidney stones and other problems.
- It boosts performance during exercise. Dehydration during exercise may hinder performance. Some scientists have proposed that consuming more water might enhance performance during strenuous activity.
- Weight loss. Water may also help with weight loss if it is consumed instead of sweetened juices and sodas. “Preloading” with water before meals can help prevent overeating by creating a sense of fullness.
- Save money. If none of these benefits sound intriguing to you, then consider how much money you could save by drinking non-bottled water!
Blog originally written by myclevelandclinic.org.