Beat the Heat

By Sabrina Toledano, RD, CSO, CDN

Happy summer! Hopefully you have been spending time outside enjoying the sunshine, whether at a backyard barbeque, baseball game, relaxing at the beach, or just taking a walk. As nice as the beautiful weather is, it’s important to know that too much sun (and/or heat) can lead to dehydration.

Did you know that water makes up 60% of the adult body? Water is essential for every cell to function properly. When you are in the sun for too long and do not drink enough water, your body loses water which can lead to dehydration. 

The most common symptoms of dehydration are thirst, dry mouth, dizziness, confusion, dry skin, fatigue, decreased urination and/or dark colored urine, and light-headedness.

Patients who have diarrhea and vomiting are at a higher risk for dehydration since these GI issues cause the body to lose water together with essential body salts, such as sodium, potassium, calcium bicarbonate, and phosphate. 

If you experience mild dehydration, a sugar-free sports drink that contains electrolytes will restore bodily fluids. When purchasing a rehydration drink, look for added electrolytes (potassium, magnesium, and sodium) with no sugar added. Examples of rehydration drinks include Propel water (unflavored) and Pedialyte (unflavored).* Simple carbohydrates, such as table sugar, honey, and corn syrup increase the amount of water in the bowel which may result in diarrhea so stick to sugar-free rehydration drinks. 

If you experience moderate or severe dehydration, it is important to consult with your physician since intravenous hydration may be required.

So – how can we prevent dehydration? Make sure you drink plenty of water and sugar free rehydration drinks with electrolytes, especially if you have been experiencing diarrhea and/or vomiting. Carrying a water bottle with you at all times is a great way to remind yourself to stay hydrated. Try to avoid caffeine when you are outdoors since this can also be dehydrating. Finally, eat foods that contain greater than 90% water including cucumbers, celery, radishes, watermelon, and strawberries.

Have a safe and relaxing summer! 

*These products are not being endorsed; just two examples of rehydration drink options!