Especially in this valley, you don’t want to be caught in a state of dehydration. If you wait until you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Because of most people’s lack of water intake, the dehydration threshold is closer than you think. With the already dry valley air coupled with the oven-like heat, dehydration can sneak up on you quickly, especially when you are on the golf course, hiking, at the park, or even at the gym. It is much easier to prevent dehydration than to treat it.
We should always be cognizant of our hydration status, especially in the summer months. If you have a dry, sticky mouth, are thirsty, have frequent headaches or constipation, you already are in mild to moderate dehydration. A good gauge of hydration status is not how thirsty you are, but the color of your urine. If your urine is light to clear, you are adequately hydrated. If your urine is dark yellow to amber, you are dehydrated!
Our bodies are 72% water. We need a lot of water intake to keep that water balance. How much water are you supposed to take in every day? Half your body weight in ounces! If you weigh 140 pounds, you should be drinking at least 70 oz of water daily! That’s a little over 2 liters of water, not counting coffee, tea or other liquids.
As we sweat, we lose more than just water. Electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium area also lost. If you have ever experienced muscle cramping after heavy exertion where you are sweating a lot, it is an indication of the loss of these major minerals. Electrolytes are essential in the function of your body and are often the first things your body loses with dehydration.
How do you maintain optimal hydration status especially when you exercise? Don’t start already dehydrated! Make it a habit to continuously drink water throughout the day. Start with a large glass of water first thing in the morning. Carry a reusable water bottle with you and count your refills. Before, during, and after your work out, drink electrolyte water and avoid the neon sports drink. Most sports drinks are filled with high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavoring, and dyes. Instead of filling yourself with sugary drinks, you can make your own bottle of home made electrolyte drink or choose from these healthy options:
- Smart Water by Glaceau
- Trader Joes Electrolyte water
- Zico Coconut water
You can also make your own electrolyte replenishing drink- it’s easy and cost effective. Just mix together:
- 12 oz filtered water
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- small pinch of sea salt
- Stevia (natural sugar substitute) to taste
There are other healthy electrolyte supplements that you can purchase such as Thorne Research- Catalyte (an electrolyte restoring powder). Add 1 scoop to a water bottle and drink before, during, and after strenuous exercise.
Author: Dr. Sonja Fung, ND
Dr. Sonja Fung is a primary care naturopathic doctor and co-owner at Live Well Clinic.