Prescription for a Happy Summer: Drink Up!
Back in April, I wrote about water and water conservation in honor of Earth Week. Water is the most basic substance of our lives. Our cells, the basic building blocks of all our tissues, are filled with fluid and surrounded by fluid. Our bodies are a veritable ocean of fluid.
As summer temperatures rise, it becomes a bit more difficult for us to retain that fluidity. We lose a lot of water through perspiration, our body’s mechanism to lower our skin temperature. The simple solution: Drink up!
Of course, there are lots of fluids that may temporarily quench your thirst, but your best choice is the simplest—water. While a cold beer might taste good on a hot day, as do caffeinated drinks such as soft drinks, tea and iced coffee, they can act as diuretics and can actually bring about a net loss in fluids. So if you choose to drink any of these, make sure you alternate with plenty of water.
When you engage in active sports—hiking, biking, running—perspiration, and therefore the loss of fluid, accelerates. You lose not only water, but some of the life-supporting minerals that keep your muscles—including your heart—working efficiently. These minerals are called electrolytes.
Our bodies need to maintain a balance of electrolytes. When these minerals are depleted—sodium and potassium are especially vulnerable to excessive perspiration—the body may need some help replacing them. The best-known way is to consume neon-colored, sugar-laden electrolyte drinks which, because of their sugar and chemicals, may or may not be the healthiest choice.
The good news is that there are natural choices, bottled drinks such as Recharge, and powders you can add to water. My favorite of these powders is completely sugar free. There are fruits and vegetables that can help you maintain your electrolyte balance as well.
If you’re drinking lots of water and still feeling tired and achy after exercising or sweating in the hot sun, a dose of electrolytes may be just what you need.
Here’s some more information on staying hydrated as you enjoy the summer sun!