Avoiding Dehydration in South Florida
We have a blog post on avoiding heat stroke and dehydration in dogs, but our stellar dog walker Leigh wanted to cover dehydration in humans. If you’re outside a fair part of the day in South Florida like our dog walkers are, hydration has to be foremost in your thoughts to maintain health and wellness. The percentage of water in your body is approximately 65%. If you decrease this, you will start to feel sluggish as the viscosity of your blood increases, making your heart pump harder!
Symptoms of dehydration:
Some of the symptoms of dehydration are:
- reduced urine output that is dark yellow
- and headaches.
Shouldn’t the humidity in South Florida make it easier to stay hydrated?
It seems counter-intuitive, but in fact, the humidity in South Florida increases dehydration. Sweating is a bio-mechanism by which our bodies cool down our body temperatures. The increased humidity doesn’t allow the sweat to evaporate and cool our body so the body keeps producing sweat and more water is lost.
How to protect yourself from dehydration?
What can you do to protect yourself and keep feeling good during these hot days? Here are a few passive and active tips to avoid dehdration:
1. Wear a sunshirt. Once again, it seems counter-intuitive to wear long sleeve polyester in the middle of a hot summer day, but these sunshirts create an air conditioning effect. Once you start sweating in them, they help by wicking away the moisture and cooling the skin quicker. You can even pre-moisten the shirt at home before your leave. If your body cools off faster, it stops losing water and avoids dehydration.
2. Wear a hat. If your head is cool and the sun isn’t beating directly on your cranium, it will help to lower your all over body temperature. Not to mention, it will keep the squint wrinkles at bay. A ventilated hat is best because your head generates a lot of heat. Wool caps are not recommended. Check out this hat on Amazon.
3. Stay in the shade. This is common sense: it is always cooler in the shade. If you have to walk somewhere without trees to provide shade, an umbrella is always an option. You might look a little weird, but an umbrella hat is an option that allows your hands to be free if you are carrying a leash. Go on, you know you love this:
4. Use a cooling towel. Using the same principle as the sun shirt, many companies have begun making cooling towels and bandanas that can be worn around the neck to promote evaporation and cooling. Costco sells them and here is a link for one on Amazon. For optimal cooling, put it in the fridge or freezer. It won’t stay cool long, but it sure feels good to put it on when you get home!
5. Keep your vehicle cooler with a sun shield. If your car is cooler, you will cool off faster and not get so dehydrated. Try to park your car in the shade if possible and if not, block the sun into your car so it isn’t so hot when you return with this sun shield. If you REALLY want something fancy, try this one. Leigh also purchased a cloth cover for her steering wheel so she doesn’t burn her hands and a special cool towel for her black leather seat so she doesn’t burn her legs.
6. Use a hydration vest. Our dog walker Leigh uses one of these and she fills it with ice water. It makes it cooler to carry and the “straw” is readily accessible. An added bonus is that you can share water with your furry friend – not from your straw – use a collapsible bowl! These collapsible dog bowls will even clip onto your fanny pack.
7. Never leave the house without a water bottle! Preferably a stainless steel double walled insulated one. Drinking out of plastic bottles is terrible for your health. The BPA’s used to produce plastic water bottles are amplified in the heat. These are neuroendocrine disruptors that can cause hormonal problems and a host of health issues including links to cancer.
Having your own water bottle is more sanitary, better for the environment and better for your health. The double walled stainless water bottle will stay cold for 24 hours even when the bottle is left cooking in your car in the hot sun. This one-time investment is a smart choice. Keep a pitcher of cold water in your refrigerator to fill it, fill it at bottle fill stations around town (even at the airports), water fountains, or in fast food restaurants in a pinch.
Now for some internal options. You allowed yourself to get to a critical state where you are exhausted and feeling yucky. Water isn’t cutting it and you need something to jump start your hydration.
8. Eat pickles – preferably dill pickles so you aren’t spiking your glycemic index. Researchers believe that pickle juice relieves cramps because the acetic acid (vinegar) triggers a reflex shortly after ingestion, which reduces alpha motor neuron activity to cramping muscles. In other words, vinegar sends a signal to the brain to tell the muscles to stop contracting and relax. It also helps with dehydration because pickles are brined in sodium and provide a good mixture of electrolytes. You can use the juice in salad dressing or drink it (in moderation) straight out of the jar.
9. Eat vegetables. Vegetables have a high water content. Eating an apple, carrots, celery, or cucumber will help you rehydrate. Pair this with peanut butter, almond butter, or a cheese stick and you have a portable good balance of protein and carbohydrate that won’t leave you feeling full and heavy.
10. Eat chia seeds. Combining chia seeds into a smoothie, oatmeal or other snack will help you stay hydrated. Chia seeds absorb and retain water. When you eat them, they provide sustaining protein and they impart their moisture to your body. These also come in squeeze packets that are yummy and can be eaten on the go.
11. Drink Hydralyte. Leigh sees a lot of people drinking high sugar beverages like Gatorade. This is unhealthy and unnecessary. Hydralyte comes in effervescent tablets that can be added to water for optimal rehydration. In my opinion, it is the best hydration supplement on the market and best of all, it comes in portable options and two flavors. Hopefully these tips will help you have a successful summer and make your time outside more enjoyable and healthy. Stay cool!