The heat is on “high” in Arizona! Staying hydrated in the Arizona climate is definitely a challenge but most importantly a necessity.
With Valley temperatures in triple digits, it’s important to stay hydrated. How much water do you need to drink during the summer in Phoenix?
According to the Mayo Clinic, men should drink about 13 cups (3 liters) of total beverages per day in a moderate climate and women should drink about 9 cups (2.2 liters) per day. That’s roughly in line with the old adage to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water or fluid per day, at least if you’re a woman. Eight 8-ounce glasses per day is about 1.9 liters. Men would need to drink more to meet their needs. Keep in mind, though, that the 13 cups for men and 9 cups for women applies to moderate climates. Phoenix is in a desert climate, so your body needs significantly more water to keep hydrated.
2-1-1 Arizona, the state’s community information service, suggests drinking 5 to 7 ounces of fluids every 15 to 20 minutes to replenish the fluids necessary to stay hydrated. That translates to roughly 240 ounces or 30 cups per day if you drank 5 ounces every 20 minutes for the 16 hours (the typical person is awake).
The typical bottler of water holds nearly 17 ounces or 2 cups of water, so to drink 30 cups, you need to drink roughly 15 bottles of water per day in Phoenix. If you’re heading outside for any length of time or exercising, you’ll need to up your fluids even more!
The good news is that you don’t need to rely solely on the water and fluids you drink. You can get some of your water intake from the foods you eat. Fruits and vegetables are particularly good for getting additional water since some, like cucumbers, melons, tomatoes, celery, and lettuce, are at least 90 percent water.
Since it’s hard to track how much water you’re getting from your food, it’s important to know the signs of dehydration. Mild dehydration can leave you feeling lethargic; signs of more severe dehydration include nausea, headaches, and dizziness. If you start experiencing those symptoms, get water as soon as possible.
Dehydration can come on quickly, especially if you are outside. If you plan on playing sports or hiking during the summer, the recommends starting to hydrate a few days before you go out.
Beverages: some hydrate, others dehydrate
Some beverages are better than others at preventing dehydration. Water is all you need if you are planning to be active in a low or moderate intensity activity, such as walking, for only an hour or less. If you plan to be exercising longer than that, or if you anticipate being out in the sun for more than a few hours, you may want to hydrate with some kind of sports drink. These replace not only fluid, but also chemicals like sodium and potassium, which are lost through perspiration. Too much or too little sodium and potassium in the body can cause trouble. Muscle cramping may be due to a deficiency of electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium.
Alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, teas, and colas, are not recommended for optimal hydration. These fluids tend to pull water from the body and promote dehydration. Fruit juice and fruit drinks may have too many carbohydrates, too little sodium, and may upset the stomach. If you’re going to drink fruit juices while exercising, you may try diluting them with 50% fruit juice and 50% water first.
Adequate hydration will keep your summer activities safer and much more enjoyable. If you need to increase your fluid intake, keep an extra pitcher of water with fresh lemons, limes, or cucumber in the refrigerator.
As summer temperatures hit, here are a number of important tips.
- Drink enough water to prevent thirst.
- Monitor fluid loss by checking the color of your urine. It should be pale yellow and not dark yellow or cloudy.
- For short-duration (less than 60 minutes), low-to-moderate-intensity activity, water is a good choice to drink before, during and after exercise.
- Any time you exercise in extreme heat or for more than one hour, supplement water with a sports drink that contains electrolytes and 6 percent to 8 percent carbohydrates. This prevents “hyponatremia” (low blood sodium), which dilutes your blood and could also lead to serious impairment and death.
- Begin exercise well-hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids the day before and within the hour before, during and after your exercise session.
- Avoid alcohol the day before or the day of a long exercise bout, and avoid exercising with a hangover.
- Consider all fluids, including tea, coffee, juices, milk and soups (though excluding alcohol, which is extremely dehydrating). The amount of caffeine in tea and coffee does not discount the fluid in them, even if they have a slight diuretic effect, according to the most recent report by the National Research Council’s Food and Nutrition Board.
- Eat at least five cups of fruits and vegetables per day for optimum health, as they all contain various levels of water and the all-important nutrient potassium.
- During exercise, for those who experience high sodium losses, eat salty foods in a pre-exercise meal or add an appropriate amount of salt to sports drinks consumed during exercise. Orange juice is high in potassium. Dilute juices, such as V-8 or orange juice, 50/50 with water so that the drinks are 6 percent carbohydrate solutions (the same as sports drinks), which will empty from your stomach quicker than 100 percent juice (juices are naturally 12 percent solutions), allowing the electrolytes and water to quickly reach your heart and organs.
- Following strenuous exercise, you need more protein to build muscle, carbohydrates to refuel muscle, electrolytes to replenish what’s lost in sweat, and fluids to help re-hydrate the body. Low-fat chocolate milk is a perfect, natural replacement that fills those requirements.
- You can also replace fluid and sodium losses with watery foods that contain salt and potassium, such as soup and vegetable juices.
- For long hikes, when you’ll need food, dried fruit and nut mixtures contain high amounts of potassium, sodium, protein, carbs and calories — though continue to drink plenty of water.
- To determine your individualized need for fluid replacement: During heavy exercise, weigh yourself immediately before and after exercise. If you see an immediate loss of weight, you’ve lost valuable water. Drink 3 cups of fluid for every pound lost; use this figure to determine the amount of water (or sports drink) you’ll need to drink before and during your next exercise session to prevent weight/water loss in the future.
Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration
If you want to avoid health problems from dehydration it’s vital to listen to your body and drink water throughout the day. Water is the best way to prevent and beat dehydration, especially during the warm summer months when we are all prone to perspire even more so than usual.
Symptoms of Dehydration
- Dry mouth
- Decreases urination
- Muscle weakness
Symptoms of Severe Dehydration
- Extreme thirst
- Extremely dry mouth and mucus membranes
- Sunken eyes
- Lack of sweating
- Lack of tears
- Very little or no urination
- Skin that won’t ‘bounce back’
- Low blood pressure
- Rapid heartbeat
People at Risk for Dehydration and Hypernatremia
- Children and infants
- Chronically ill
- Endurance athletes
- High altitude dwellers
Simple Steps to Avoid Dehydration
The best way to avoid dehydration, particularly during hot summer months, is to be sure you and your loved ones are drinking plenty of pure water on a daily basis, at least eight to ten, eight ounce glasses full. If you are exerting yourself or out in the heat, drink even more water.
Avoiding dehydration is as simple as drinking enough pure water on a daily basis but so many just don’t do this. When you realize the high price your body will pay from a serious case of dehydration or hypernatremia, you’ll be asking for more water to drink everyday.
Top Hydrating Foods
- Coconut Water
- Bell Peppers
- Citrus Fruit
- Cultured Dairy (amasai/kefir/yogurt)
- Star fruit
If you suspect that someone is dehydrated, seek immediate medical attention.
The Maricopa Association of Governments coordinates the Heat Relief Network, a listing of places where people, especially vulnerable individuals such as those experiencing homelessness, can receive water and, in some cases, a place to cool off. Get more information www.azmag.gov/heatrelief.
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