With summer comes the usual hullabaloo about dehydration and staying in the shade whenever possible. As any Orlando sports doctor will tell you, conserving your fluids at his time of the year is crucial to maintain your electrolyte balance and retain your vitality and energy. Dehydration and exposure can sap your energy and make you quite lethargic, aside from the obvious dangers that come from exposure to UV rays for extended periods of time.
One big challenge, which is more of a mistake, people make is that they try to keep their fluids up in all the wrong ways. We caught up with Dr. Amit Varma, an Orlando sports doctor who told us that while there are many people who will tell you that drinking fluids is all it takes to stay hydrated, we should all watch out for these three ways to NOT stay hydrated.
Grab a cold soda to stave off the heat and thirst
We’ve all seen those ads where a guy or gal reaches for a cold refreshing soda when the heat gets too much. There are doubtless dozens of running ads now that it’s summer all promising cool relief from the heat. But did you know that all drinking liquids are not created equal?
“Sodas and other sugary beverages actually reduce the amount of bio-available water in your body owing to the high concentration of sugars and other chemicals in them. The body needs to free water in order to dilute these compounds and flush them through the system,” says Dr. Varma
It may seem that with a belly full of liquids, you have conquered your thirst (Obey Your Thirst anyone?) but it’s not your belly that needs water but your cells, and they only respond to pure water infused with electrolytes.
Snack on sugary or salty bites
Heat in many cases impedes people’s appetites, perhaps even yours and you may be tempted as such to snack instead. Potato crisps, sweets, or other high sugar/salt snacks. Bad move. These snacks again require quite a bit of water to dilute the high concentration of sugar or salt in them and this decreases the water availability in your system.
Dr. Varma points out that a good percentage of the water you take comes from the foods you eat, adding that this is only so when the foods you eat are high in moisture content and low on sugar and salt. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables ensures you maximize the water intake available from the food you eat, he counsels. So when the craving strikes, have a salad instead of a bag of potato chips.
Drinking water only when you feel thirsty
This is another way to ensure you stay dehydrated throughout the summer. The Orlando sports doctor explains; “The body is designed to generate a thirst response when the concentration of solids in the blood goes up 2% (which means the blood gets thicker).”
“If this concentration goes up by 1%,” Dr. Varma says, “you won’t feel thirsty yet this is not the optimal level of fluids in the body. So instead of waiting to feel thirsty, make it a habit to sip on water throughout the day, this will keep your body fluids up and keep them continually replenished.”
Remember it’s not really how much water you take but how often you take it that matters. A few swigs every now and then throughout the day is better than trying to gulp down 8 glasses of water.
Dehydration is not always life threatening and many people go about with mild dehydration (rather than clinical dehydration). What it does do is reduce mental awareness, skin quality and overall wellbeing. With the rising temperatures in summer, don’t be caught fighting your thirst in all the wrong ways, some good old fashioned water is the answer.