Pools, lakes, fountains, wading pools, water slides, in summer water is everywhere. What's important is to ensure that the body gets enough of it!
Hydration and body temperature control
Reactions by the body usually aren't random occurrences. As a matter of fact, everything is well coordinated by our brain. Fear and hunger are examples of well-orchestrated reactions. Body temperature control is also a specific process that enables the body to avoid being too warm or too cold. Several mechanisms are in place to ensure that internal body temperature remains balanced and water plays a major role in this aspect.
In summer, factors such as physical activity and heat from the sun may contribute to increased body temperature, and activate its regulatory mechanisms. The main function of water contained in the body is to activate sweating. By increasing our sweat production, which is made up of water, the body creates heat loss, enabling internal body temperature to decrease.
The water we use when we sweat comes from the body’s reserves, so they will become depleted if we are exposed to heat for long periods of time without drinking water. This process is called “dehydration”. The risk of suffering from it increases in summer, especially during a heat wave or when someone does intense exercise (such as during a marathon). Therefore, ensuing you have enough water should be a priority during summer.
The benefits of water
Some people tend not to drink a lot of water during the day, while for others, having a bottle of water in hand is almost a necessity. In general, to compensate for daily loss of fluids (due to urination, perspiration, bowel movements, the lungs, etc.), it is estimated that humans should take in about 2 litres of water per day, all sources combined.
Drinking adequate quantities of water has many benefits. Proper hydration contributes to maintaining a balance of several body functions. Also, in summer, your skin is put to the test by certain elements that can affect it, such as the sun’s rays. It is important to properly hydrate your skin during summer, and drinking water plays a major role in hydration.
Beware of heatstroke!
Advanced dehydration increases the risk of heatstroke. This condition occurs when body temperature is too high and our defence mechanisms, including sweating, are insufficient in reducing the increased temperature. Heatstroke can be very serious, even fatal. It is often the result of these three factors combined: extreme heat, intense physical activity and insufficient hydration. However, it can occur in summer in individuals who aren’t active, but who were overexposed to heat without sufficient hydration.
For additional information on the ways to prevent or treat heatstroke, read the following text: Heatstroke: how to prevent and treat it.
Tips on how to stay well-hydrated during summer
In order to keep your body temperature control mechanisms active and thereby prevent dehydration, follow this advice:
- If it’s hot outside, drink at least one glass of water every 20 minutes even if you aren’t thirsty.
- Avoid alcohol.
- Also drink juice, milk, soybean beverages or soups to store your water reserves.
- Bring an adequate quantity of water bottles if you practise a sport.
- Allow yourself regular breaks in the shade if you work or practise a sport outdoors.
- If you must do a physical activity or intense physical work outdoors, it is better to do so early in the morning or later in the evening than during the day when the sun is at its strongest.
- Wear light and loose-fitting clothes.
- Use caution for children and elderly persons, who are more sensitive to dehydration.
- Use extra caution if you have kidney, heart or lung disease.
- Monitor your urine: if you’re well-hydrated, it should be the colour of lemonade.
- Listen to your body: drink if you are thirsty and go in the shade if you don’t feel well.
Following advice on how to prevent dehydration will allow you to continue your daily activities with ease, especially during the hot summer months. During a heat wave, water is a valuable resource–don’t underestimate its importance!