The Heat Is On
Thirst, the body’s craving for fluid, is a close runner-up to the air we breathe when it comes to survival. Our body is composed of over 50% water, which serves as the foundational compound for blood, cerebrospinal fluid, the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, bones, and skin.
Water’s main purpose is to dissolve and distribute nutrients throughout the body, making it essential for life. This includes substances called electrolytes which literally deliver the spark of life crucial for countless bodily functions, including muscle contraction and relaxation. Sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium represent the major electrolytes for bodily function.
When the hot weather hits, things can get a little sticky. The body uses the skin as a thermostat. During extreme heat or exertion, it perspires to regulate a safe core-body temperature. However, the process of perspiration results in the loss of these crucial electrolytes. In addition to thirst, the lack of urgency to urinate can also be a cue you are “running on empty.” Clear urine is a sign you are adequately hydrated; when it becomes darker in colour, it could mean you have some catching up to do. Muscle cramps, headache, and fatigue round out the common signs you are overheating.
The best strategy for coping with summer swelter is to be proactive. Consume as much water as you can before heading out on your summer adventures and bring more along with you. Electrolyte-rich foods and beverages—such as bananas, watermelon, kiwis, strawberries, and coconut water—are great natural sources of electrolytes. There are also scientifically formulated electrolyte-rehydration beverages for next level performance and better health.
Enjoy that summer heat, including a cool drink under a shady tree, or a midafternoon nap on that Himalayan hammock you finally hung up. Just remember: Healthy living also involves keeping your electrolytes in balance.