By Courtney Brein, Linda Golodner Food Safety and Nutrition Fellow
Come rain, shine, snow, or sleet, the human body will require water. While it is important not to neglect one’s liquid diet throughout the year, during the summer months staying hydrated often requires additional effort. The body more easily becomes dehydrated – meaning it loses more fluids than it takes in – in warm weather, and, without adequate fluids, it cannot carry out its normal functions.
To complicate matters, by the time individuals feel “thirsty,” they are often already slightly dehydrated. This problem is exacerbated in older adults, whose bodies less readily sense dehydration.
How can one prevent dehydration? Drink up! All liquids “count” when it comes to hydrating the body, although – for health reasons – sugary drinks should only be consumed occasionally. Eating fruits and vegetables also helps provide the body with the liquid it needs.
Doctors generally recommend that individuals drink approximately eight or nine cups of fluid per day, but check with your physician or consult this calculator to more precisely determine your unique needs.
Exercise (or any other activity that causes sweating) requires additional consumption of liquids. Make an effort to hydrate before, during, and after exercise, in order to replace lost fluids.
Though summer may be in full swing and we might be in relaxation mode, it is all the more important we stay consumer savvy.
Sunny days may bring a smile to our faces and give us our daily dose of vitamin D, but we have to be prepared and protected so that we don’t get too much of a good thing. It’s important to wear a hat (with a brim and ideally one that offers the face and ears protection), limit exposure between 10am and 4pm, wear sunglasses with at least 99% UV protection, and use sunscreen. When using sunscreen, there are a few things to remember:
- use broad spectrum sunscreen, which protects against both UVA and UVB rays
- use SPF 15 at a minimum
- apply at least 30 minutes before going outside so that it can be absorbed
- apply even on cloudy days
- reapply at least every 2 hours – more if you are in water or staying active and sweating
With longer, warmer days, it makes it all the easier to get out and get active. Whether biking, swimming or walking, it’s important to do so safely. Wear a helmet, and appropriate padding, when you take the wheels. When swimming, stay alert and practice some safe tips like swimming with a partner, knowing your limits, staying in safe swimming areas (and avoiding currents, deep water, etc.), being careful about diving, and keeping protected from the sun. If you plan to exercise, try to avoid drinking a lot of alcohol or caffeine beforehand, as it can cause dehydration. Stretch your muscles out before any activity to prevent injury. And one of the most important things to remember when getting out and active this summer is to stay hydrated!
With all the excitement of summer, it’s also important to take some time to relax a bit, whether it means you take a vacation or a staycation. It’s important that you take some time to unplug, unwind and give your body a much needed break – it can actually help lower our blood pressure.
So whether going for a relaxing stroll or splashing around in a pool, stay safe and consumer savvy this summer!