Please remember to stay hydrated during these dog days of summer! Generally, I recommend consuming half the body weight in ounces of water per day. Adding cucumber, mint, and/or hibiscus to the water is a wonderful and tasty way to consume water and cool off. Cold water herbal infusions make wonderful cold tea.
Coconut water is another excellent way to say hydrated. You can read more about the wonders of the coconut, which are so many it is known in Ayurveda or Classical Indian Medicine as "The All Giving Tree", here. I think it's amazing that in emergency medicine/ remote jungle medicine coconut water can be used as a short term intravenous hydration and resuscitation fluid when other supplies are short, because the electrolyte content matches closely enough to human body fluids.
According to one study sodium infused coconut water is as good as sports drinks and has better fluid tolerance. Most of the coconut water on the market is not sodium infused, but it's easy to make your own sodium infused coconut water. Gatorade's G2 has 110mg/ 8 oz, while coconut water has just 25 mg/ 8 oz. So to get the same proportion of sodium in coconut water you'd add 1/16 tsp of sea salt to 8 oz of coconut water. Of course there are less expensive, but just as effective ways to make your own homemade rehydration fluids. Here is one recipe based on the Oral Rehydration Solution used by Unicef and the World Health Organization:
Table Salt (NaCl) 1/2 tsp.*
Salt Substitute (KCl) 1/2 tsp.*
Baking Soda 1/2 tsp.
Table Sugar 2 tablespoons
Tap Water 1 Liter (= 1 Qt. 2 tablespoons)
Chill. Can be served with fresh lemon squeezed into it.
This tastes quite salty to someone who isn't dehydrated.NOTE: *Morton's Salt makes "Lite Salt" that is half NaCl (table salt) and half Potassium salt (KCl), if this is what you have, simply use 1 teaspoon of the Lite Salt in place of the table and potassium salt.
Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) packets can actually be purchased, and are especially useful for marathon runners. In general, I typically do not recommend ORS for average athletes. Sports drink consumption has been linked to poor oral health, which affects overall health, in children, adults, and athletes. However, this solution is useful on these hot days, when excessive time is spent outdoors and excessive sweating does occur, to prevent heat stroke. This recipe is also a good one to hand in cases of acute diarrhea for rehydration purposes.
Although it can be tempting to spend an entire day gardening or at the beach, be sure not to spend excessive amounts of time outdoors in high sun exposure and high temperatures. If you are outdoors and need to use sunscreen I recommend mineral based sunscreens, such as Badger brand, that are effective without any concerning chemicals. Environmental Working Group has a helpful guide for finding toxin free sunscreens.
Dr. Sarah Giardenelli says to avoid rigorous activity in during the day and save outdoor exercise and activities for early morning or later evening. Avoidance of moderate to excessive alcohol and caffeinated beverages is also encouraged. To learn more about Dr.Giardenelli please fill out the form below.