May 2, 2013

Getting the Dish on Hydration

Summer is finally on its way, and that means that those temperatures are going to start slowly climbing, up, up, and up! While there are many things that you can do in the summer that you can’t do in the winter (swimming outside, wearing shorts, going to summer camp and more), something else you should be aware of us, is how much water you are drinking. It is very important to drink water year round, but in the summer when it is very hot, your body tends to sweat more, and it is up to you to make sure you replace that water!

From daffodils, to hamsters, everything that lives needs water. Different plants and animals use water in different ways, but one thing we have in common is that all living things need water to survive. For example: Scientists use to think that camels stored water in their humps, but they have now found that isn’t true. What is interesting about camels is they can drink water A LOT faster than other animals. Camels can drink 53 gallons of water in less than 3 minutes! So when they find water, they can quickly drink it and store it for when there isn’t water around.


So why do people need water to survive? Water makes up half of our body weight, and if we don’t have water for more than a few days, we will not survive. I know what you might be thinking; I have gone several days without drinking even a single glass of water! Well, guess what, we don’t only get water from a simple glass full of H20! Water is in many of our fruits and vegetables (I mean why do you think they call it watermelon?), and even if you are drinking something other than water, water is probably a main ingredient. So if you are foregoing your water bottle for a Dr. Pepper, although the sugars aren’t healthy for you, you are still getting the water necessary for survival.

In a day, our body does many important jobs, and it needs water for a lot of them! There is water in all of your blood cells, which carry oxygen to all the cells of your body. Water is also really important to our digestive system. Water helps your digestive system too. It is part of the juices needed to break down your food, and also helps in eliminating your waste (plainly put, it helps you go to the bathroom!) Not only does water help do these things, but it is also a vital part of your immune system, which helps you fight off diseases.

If you don’t get enough water (which is common when you are out in the hot summer sun) you can start to get dehydrated. Dehydration feels horrible… you get a headache, it makes your belly feel sick, and can make you feel really tired. Dehydration is something that can be easily avoided as long as you pay attention to how much water your body is getting!

So If Sweating Makes us Dehydrated, Why do we do it?
The average body temperature is around 98.6°. This is the temperature at which the human body does its best work! So when we get really hot, or our body is working really hard, we have our own built in air conditioning system. It is called sweat. The average person has 2.6 MILLION sweat glands in their skin. Wow… that sure is a lot of places to sweat from! Sweat glands are found almost everywhere on your body. Sweat is made up of mostly water, potassium and salt, but when you are REALLY active, your body can’t keep up and so your sweat gets even saltier. In fact, after a lot of marathon runners finish the race, you can actually see the salt crystals on their faces!

One thing you always hear about sweat, is that it is stinky! But it isn’t actually the liquid that comes out of your skin that makes your sweat stink. There is a bacteria that lives on your skin, and when it mixes with sweat it gives us that stinky smell! When you get older, you develop special glands in your armpits called apocrine glands. These glands make a thicker odorless fluid, but when it mixes with the bacteria on your skin, man can it stink! Luckily for us, regular washing with soap and water can keep that stinky smell under control.

So How do I stay Hydrated?
So this summer, make sure if you are going to be outside for long periods of time, that you are drinking plenty of fluids (preferably water), and you are eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. If you know you are going to be participating in anything specifically active (like a sporting event) make sure to drink 16 ounces of water at least 1 hour before the activity. This will give your body plenty of time to process the fluids. Then while you are active make sure to get at least 5 ounces of fluids every 20 minutes. It is almost important to drink a sports drink to replace your potassium if you are planning on being active for over an hour! Now get out there, and enjoy that sunshine.

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