We all know it’s coming. We’ve felt the heat swell up over the last few weeks, and as we’ve emerged from the stay at home orders that kept us inside for the early months of 2020, many of us (myself included) have begun to reconnect with our old outdoor pastimes – directly into the summer heat. I wanted to write this article just to discuss some of the simple topics related to staying hydrated in Arizona heat this summer, as well as some other ways to Beat the Heat!!!
Dehydration in Adults
The majority of adults do not hydrate themselves close to the recommended level. In the USA. 75% of adults suffer some measure of chronic dehydration, drinking only 2.5 cups a day on average. In Arizona, especially the summer, this can become dangerous to our health. In the elderly and frail it can become deadly.
Dehydration occurs when more water and fluids leave the body than enter it. Even low levels of dehydration can cause headaches, lethargy, and constipation. Water is constantly lost throughout the day as we breathe, sweat, urinate, and defecate, we can replenish the water in our body by drinking fluids
Many diseases — such as diabetes, cystic fibrosis, and kidney disease — increase dehydration risk and the need for fluids. For example, people with uncontrolled diabetes urinate frequently. Some medications can also cause a person to urinate or sweat more than normal.
It may not be the world’s most popular topic, but we’ve got to discuss it:
The standard color of your urine is referred to by doctors as “urochrome.” Urine naturally carries a yellow pigment. When you’re staying hydrated, your urine will be a light yellow, close-to-clear color. If you’re getting dehydrated, you’ll notice that your urine is becoming a deep amber or even light brown.
Clear urine indicates that you’re drinking more than the daily recommended amount of water. While being hydrated is a good thing, drinking too much water can rob your body of electrolytes. Urine that occasionally looks clear is no reason to panic, but urine that’s always clear could indicate that you need to cut back on how much water you’re drinking.
As you can see from the picture above, clear means that we are over hydrated, light amber means we are sufficiently hydrated, and dark yellow means we are dehydrated – drink some water!!
How much water do we need every day?
We are going to review some Mayo Clinic recommendations for hydration here, as they tend to be a good place to start. It is recommended that men drink 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) per day, while it is recommended that women drink 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) per day. This may fly in the face of the traditional “drink 8 cups of water per day” advice. However, remember that advice is just a guideline. Some people will need more or less water. Additionally, the same person may need more water one day and less the day after.
Some of the factors that may influence this need are:
- How much exercise or physical activity we’ve done that day. (One of the most obvious sources of water loss is sweat)
- Where you live. (As Arizona dwellers, I advise the those of us who live here to err on the side of drinking more water, rather than less)
Ways to hydrate:
- Drink Water – monitor your intake throughout the day
- Drink Milk – research has found that milk (full fat and semi-skimmed) is very good at hydrating you. In fact, milk can be better at hydrating you than water because it is retained in the body for longer. In addition, milk provides essential nutrients including calcium, protein, and B vitamins.
- Eat fruits and vegetables – a lot of fruits and vegetables contain lots of water, such as watermelon, blueberries, celery, and spinach.