Keeping Hydrated During the Summer Months
Staying well-hydrated is always important, particularly in the summer months when the temperature rises and our perspiration ('sweating') increases. Every day, our bodies lose water naturally through the urine, intestines, skin, and lungs. When participating in physical activity, perspiration further increases this water loss; therefore, adequate hydration, or replacement of water in our bodies, is extremely important. Persons with amputations may also have problems with body temperature control due to decreased body surface area (especially among persons with lower-extremity amputations), and have a higher incidence of over-heating. This can increase perspiration even further and require strict focus on adequate hydration.
While all athletes need to keep hydration in mind, athletes with significant disabilities may be more prone to the effects of dehydration. Hydration issues are present whenever an athlete has significant mobility restrictions; therefore, caregivers and/or coaches must provide fluids, and fluid breaks, frequently. The goal this summer is to stay hydrated and avoid dehydration.
In general, fluid should be consumed prior to, during, and after participating in physical activity or sporting events. It is recommended that 14 to 22 fluid ounces (oz) (just under 2 to 3 cups) be consumed 2 hours prior to an event or planned activity, and 6 to 12 oz be consumed every 15 to 20 minutes (as tolerated) during, as well as after, an activity in order to replace water loss. If you are training during the summer months, and have the opportunity to weigh yourself before and after activity, another guideline can be used that is based on pound(s) lost during activity. In this scenario, one should drink 16 to 24 fluid oz (2 to 3 cups) for every pound lost during exercise (as this loss will be from water). For example, if body weight before an activity or event is 145 pounds and body weight after the activity/event is 143 pounds, then net loss was 2 pounds. Therefore, the recommended fluid replacement would be 32 to 48 ounces (2 lb * 16 oz = 32 oz, and 2 lb * 24 oz = 48 oz).
Proper hydration is critical for optimal body functioning, but it is also important to take in the right fluids. Recent literature has indicated that juice may not be the best source of fluids to assist with maintaining proper hydration in the summer months. For optimal absorption, a beverage should contain only 4% to 8% carbohydrate. This amount can be found in some sports drinks; however, fruit juices and sodas are closer to 10% carbohydrate and take longer to be absorbed. Therefore the amount of sugar (fructose or high-fructose corn syrup) within a glass of juice may not assist with proper hydration due to slow absorption. If hydration is the focus, there are concerns with consuming fruit juice instead of water, or drinking juice as opposed to consuming a piece of fruit. A whole piece of fruit can supply nutrients such as vitamin C and fiber, as well as assist with hydration, because the majority of a piece of whole fruit is water. In fact, if it is not a dried piece of fruit, such as a date, a piece of fruit is usually made up, on average, of 80% water. For example:
Apple (100 g) = 84% water
Blueberry = 80% water
Cantaloupe = 89% water
Peach = 89% water
Therefore, when thinking about proper hydration this summer, water is an ideal choice, and if participating in prolonged activity (greater than 60 minutes), a sports drink is also a viable option. Read food labels to determine the amount of carbohydrate in a product and attempt to consume levels that will assist with quick absorption (4% to 8%). Even low-fat dairy fluids (skim milk) are a suitable choice instead of choosing fruit juice or soda to prevent dehydration.
Here are some ideas on how to get more whole fruit into your diet this summer:
Slice and combine apples, pears, oranges, bananas, grapes, and blueberries. Drain the syrup from a can of pineapple chunks and add remaining pineapple to the mixed fruit. Add unflavored (plain) yogurt and honey to suit your taste. Toss well and refrigerate.
Keep fruit chunks ready to eat in your refrigerator. Use seasonal fruits as they will be at their peak flavor and affordability. Create exciting fruit salad dressings with low-fat yogurt, applesauce, and honey. Add nuts and raisins for variety and added nutrition.
Rainbow Fruit Salad
- 1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
- 1 cup cubed cantaloupe
- 1 cup diced kiwi fruit (about 3 medium)
- 1 cup sliced bananas (about 1 large)
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 2 tablespoons frozen (thawed) orange juice concentrate
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 3/4 teaspoon poppy seeds
- Place the fruit in a large bowl, and toss to mix.
- Place the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, and stir to mix. Pour the dressing over the fruit, and toss to mix well.
- Cover the salad and chill for 1 to 3 hours before serving.