AMID the scorching summer temperatures in the country, don’t wait for thirst to set in before getting hydrated.
Thirst is a signal to the brain that cells are already dehydrated and it is time to look for fluids such as the refreshing water, said Teddy Manansala, Benilde’s nutritionist-dietitian.
The human body is made up of over 70 percent water and “within our cells, water functions in facilitating physiological and biochemical processes,” Manansala said, just like energy production, blood pressure and heart rate regulation, body temperature, and immune cells response, among others.
The assistant professor at Benilde’s School of Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management has some suggestions on how to increase fluid intake.
For one, Manansala said choose fresh foods that are high in moisture or water content. There are many available fresh produce from local farms and market which are also high sources of dietary fiber to help flush out toxins from the body.
“In doing so, you may help our local farmers by purchasing their fresh produce online or by visiting the nearby markets,” he added.
He also recommends creating dishes with more liquid. In meal planning and preparation, always include at least a menu item with more liquid or stock, as well as simmered, boiled or braised meat, he said.
“Do not forget to make it even more nutritious by adding economical indigenous ingredients,” he added.
Manansala advised people to always carry their reusable water tumblers which will aid them in keeping track of their daily water intake requirement.
“Drinking from their own tumblers can be a good habit to help the environment get rid of solid wastes from single-use containers,” he stressed.
People feel the need to chill with some refreshing drinks. Be creative, Manansala said, by preparing infused drinks using citrus fruits or fresh herbs as well as making fruit shakes with less table sugar using tumblers.
Highly caffeinated drinks may be consumed in moderation and to make them healthier, Manansala mentioned adding a squeeze of lemon, lime or calamansi.
“This reduces the bitter taste in coffee while the vitamin C content increases absorption rate of antioxidant catechins present in tea,” he said, noting that using less table sugar to no sugar at all is preferred as both caffeine and simple sugars are dehydrating to the cell.
The Food and Nutrition Research Institute recommends six to eight glasses of water and other beverages per day, Manansala said. “Yet, this requirement is higher when a person’s level of physical activity is increased.”
“Do not forget to increase water and fluid intake with the continuing high heat index trend to prevent heat stroke and dehydration,” he added.
In the study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2016, skimmed milk, oral rehydration solution, full flat milk and orange juice have shown significantly higher hydration index, followed by cola, diet cola, iced tea, hot tea, sports drink, still water, sparkling water, lager and coffee.
Besides drinking plenty of fluid, there are also a number of precautions to prevent heat exhaustion and other heat-related illnesses, according to the Mayo Clinic.
When temperatures climb, people must wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing and protect themselves against sunburn, as well as take extra precautions with certain medications and never leave anyone in a parked car.
Also, take it easy during the hottest parts of the day, get acclimated and be cautious if one is at increased risk.
Possible heat exhaustion signs and symptoms include cool, moist skin with goose bumps when in the heat; heavy sweating; faintness; dizziness; fatigue; weak, rapid pulse; low blood pressure upon standing; muscle cramps; nausea; and headache.
Dehydration, alcohol use and overdressing can cause heat exhaustion.
In case of heat exhaustion, stop all activity and rest, move to a cooler place, and drink cool water or sports drinks. Seek immediate medical attention if one does not improve within one hour.
Anyone can develop heat exhaustion and if left untreated, it can lead to heatstroke which is a life-threatening condition.