Beat the Heat: Protect Against Dehydration

With summer fast approaching, it is the perfect time to consider how much water you are consuming as the temperature continues to rise. Water intake is important for your health and safety. If we don’t drink enough water, it can lead to dehydration. 
 
What is dehydration?
Dehydration is when your body does not have as much water and fluids as it should. Our bodies control our temperature by sweating. When we sweat, our body loses water and may become dehydrated if that water is not replaced. Common symptoms of dehydration include headaches, low energy, lightheadedness and having trouble concentrating. 
 
How much water do we need? 
Water needs vary for each person depending on age, gender, body size and your level of physical activity.
 
As the heat and humidity increases, so does the need for water. We need even more water when we are enjoying an activity in the sun or exercising in the hot weather. Children, athletes and the elderly are at a higher risk of dehydration during hot weather and need to be extra careful to drink enough water.
 
How do you know if you are getting enough? 
Thirst is the body’s way of saying that we need to drink water. However, once you feel thirsty you are already slightly dehydrated. A good way to tell if you are drinking enough fluids is the color of your urine. Dark yellow urine (that looks like apple juice) is a sign of dehydration. Light yellow urine signals good hydration. 
 
Tips to get enough fluids
Make sure you keep cool water available at all times. It is a good idea for each family member to have a water bottle with them so they can sip water regularly.
 
Canada’s Food Guide suggests making water your drink of choice. However, milk, juice, and other fluids also provide hydration for your body. Fruits like watermelon make a great summer snack because of the high water content. Try freezing some watermelon cubes for a cool and nutritious treat!
 
What about sports drinks? 
Your best choice for regular hydration is water. Sports drinks contain sugar for energy and sodium to replace electrolytes. A typical sports drink will provide about 250 calories a bottle – which is a lot! If you take part in long periods of intense activity in the heat, sports drinks can be helpful. If you have been participating in a vigorous activity (such as soccer, basketball or running) for longer than one hour in hot weather, you may choose to drink a sports drink. However, a less expensive option that provides a similar effect to a sports drink is a small amount of 100% fruit juice diluted with water. 
 
What about energy drinks? 
Energy drinks are not recommended during exercise. They contain a lot of caffeine - usually double the amount found in soft drinks. Too much caffeine may dehydrate you and cause anxiety, irregular heartbeats, nervousness, jitters, and trouble sleeping. Energy drinks may also contain herbs which can interfere with some medications. They should never be mixed with alcohol. Energy drinks are not recommended for children, teens, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and individuals who are sensitive to caffeine. 
 
What about alcohol? 
The thought of a cold beer on a hot day may be inviting, but be aware that alcohol can dehydrate you. Alcohol should always be consumed with caution and in moderation – even more so on hot days.
 
Stay well hydrated and healthy this summer!