H2O–The Wise Move
By Anna Sachse
SoCal is pretty much sunny and warm all the time, but the summer months—especially the late ones such as August and September—are when the heat is really on. With the high temps comes the potential for a variety of dehydration-related maladies, from low energy and irritability to organ failure and heat stroke. Obviously drinking lots of liquids is a way to beat the heat, but it’s important to remember that not all hydration is created equal. Put down that Corona and read on to find out why.
In 100-degree heat, nothing may sound more refreshing or just plain awesome than sitting by the pool and knocking back a six pack of beer, but even if it’s ice-cold, that Bud won’t do you much good when it comes to hydration. The reason is that alcohol inhibits the brain’s production of ADH, the anti-diuretic hormone that helps reduce or prevent water loss from the kidneys—consequently the kidneys release more water into the bladder than they do to circulation, and, with increasing frequency, you’ll find yourself having to head inside—or perhaps jump into the pool if you’re on beer number four and your inhibitions are down—for a quick bathroom break. The result is obviously dehydration. But that’s not all—in addition, the heat is causing you to perspire and lose more water anyway, thus leaving a higher concentration of alcohol in your system which will make you drunk faster and more likely to do stupid things like get a Looney Tunes tattoo with your buddies who are all home from college. Drink water instead.
Most people have probably heard that, like alcohol, caffeine is a diuretic. This is true, but the effect is actually pretty mild and the liquid in your Iced Blended or Mountain Dew will most likely be sufficient to replace the liquid lost due to the caffeine. In fact, according to a study published in 2005 in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, researchers found no significant differences in levels of excreted electrolytes or urine volume between people who were given caffeine in capsule form and those who were given a placebo, so apparently even the replacement liquid isn’t that important. That said, you still might want to limit how many caffeinated coffee drinks or sodas you consume, as the added sugar can quickly pack on the pounds and carbonation can make you feel full, and therefore less likely to continue drinking the liquids you need on a hot day. Drink water instead.
For most people, a sports drink is nothing more than flat soda—a slightly salty bottle of calories. Unless you’re exercising vigorously, it’s very unlikely that your electrolyte levels (sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium and phosphate—all important for organ function) are anywhere near a dangerously low level. However, the benefit of sports drinks is that their fruity flavor and salty nature inspires thirst, thus making you more likely to continue drinking liquids of any kind. In other words, sports drinks certainly won’t harm you, but drink water instead.
Juice certainly has a lot to offer in the nutrition department, but its naturally-occurring fructose actually reduces the rate at which cells absorb water, so on a crazy hot day, you’re better off limiting your intake to just your morning OJ and then drinking water.
Recent studies have found that, post-exercise, the consumption of skimmed milked helps with fluid retention. It also isn’t bad at hydrating in the first place, but really, how much milk do you feel like drinking? Have a glass or two, but you’re better off—and this may come as a shocker—drinking water instead.