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Dietitians Dish: Stay hydrated by following these tips

By By Elizabeth Sommerfeld
July 9, 2013 at 2:09 a.m.


As the summer continues on and the temperatures continue to climb, it is important to remember to stay hydrated. Drinking fluids or getting fluid from food is the best way to hydrate your body and to cool it from the inside out.

Dehydration puts you at risk for heat exhaustion, which can lead to heat stroke if not attended to in a timely manner.

Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and not enough fluids.

Signs of heat exhaustion

• Heavy sweating

• Muscle cramps

• Fatigue

• Weakness

• Dizziness

• Headache

• Nausea or vomiting

• Dark urine

Skin may be cool and moist. The pulse rate will be fast and weak, and breathing will be fast and shallow. If heat exhaustion is untreated, it may progress to heat stroke.

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. Body temperature may rise to 106 degrees or higher within 10-15 minutes.

Symptoms of heat stroke

• Dry, hot skin (no sweating)

• Rapid, weak pulse

• Confusion

• A body temperature above 104 degrees

• Seizures

• Unconsciousness

If you see someone with any warning signs of heat stroke, call 911 immediately, then cool the victim in whatever way you can - for example, immerse the victim in cold water, spray the victim with a hose and move them to a shady spot.

Water does not have to be the only way to replace fluid in your diet. Consider high water content foods such as lettuce, which is composed of about 96 percent water. Watermelon is another food with high water content (91 percent of the food is water) and can be a good way to replace fluid for children.

Other foods such as grapefruit, broccoli and yogurt have about 90 percent water content and can be an additional way to get fluid in other than drinking water.

Limit sodas and teas, as these can contain caffeine which can cause increased urination and lead to dehydration.

Also, sports drinks are not typically needed unless a large amount of sweating occurs and you are unable to eat soon. Sports drinks can contain large amounts of salt and can contain as much sugar as a soda.

Drinking water and then eating a balanced meal containing some high water content foods is the best way to stay hydrated this summer.

Elizabeth Sommerfeld is a registered and licensed dietitian at DeTar Healthcare Systems. Send questions or comments to dietitians@vicad.com.

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