As news reports have shared, many parts of Europe have been experiencing abnormally high temperatures and heatwaves from 81F in early June to an expected 91 F+ continuing throughout the months of August. The UK hits its highest ever temperature of 104.54 F, as well as a record high in the Netherlands. These temperatures have caused wildfires to spread in France, Portugal, Spain, and Greece as well as raised concern for several health conditions that have affected thousands of Europeans. These concerns include dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, cardiovascular complications, and more.
Experts have been working towards addressing these concerns as the increased temperatures have posed a health risk for natives, especially workers who operate outdoors daily. A construction worker wears a safety helmet, which impairs the body’s ability to release heat. This is just one example of the difficulties the high temperature has caused. Excessive heat exposure can harm internal organs like the heart and lungs, aggravating a number of diseases and raising the risk of death. Therefore, what can we do to prevent these conditions from progressing while battling these tough temperatures? See the list below:
Dehydration occurs when the body loses more fluid than is taken in. This can cause an upset in the balance of minerals in the body. Since the body is more than 60% water, it is important to rehydrate as it perspires to maintain body temperature. As the body gradually loses fluid, the blood becomes more concentrated, putting additional strain on the cardiovascular system to pump blood. This high blood concentration makes the kidneys retain more water, decreasing urination. In order to retain water, the body pulls fluid from brain tissue, which negatively impacts overall cell function. As you can see hydration plays a fundamental role in ensuring health and wellness.
How much water is enough?
The best way to ensure you are meeting your water needs is to continuously sip on water throughout the day. Having a water bottle readily available while working or performing any strenuous exercise will make this easier. 8 ounces of water 8 times a day is a great starting point. In addition, continue drinking fluids as you sweat or exert yourself. It’s crucial to remember that as you perspire to keep your body’s core temperature down, water is being lost and must be replaced.
The human body needs electrolytes in order to function properly. These can be obtained from foods or drinks. These electrolytes are important for maintaining the alkalinity of pH levels in the blood. Furthermore, regulating fluid levels in the human body, transmitting signals from nerves, muscles, and cells throughout the body, building tissue and clotting blood, and contracting muscles. The human body loses electrolytes in a variety of ways, however, primarily through dehydration. When dehydrated, you may be at risk for headaches, irritability, heartbeat, and fatigue.
What is a good source of electrolytes?
Electrolytes can be found in unsweetened coconut water, bananas, dairy products, watermelon, and avocado. An easy way to prevent dehydration in addition to water is adding yogurt or 1 cup of cut watermelon to your day, or even having a banana as a snack. One banana has 422 mg of potassium which ultimately helps control muscles and blood pressure. Simple and efficient!
Water is not the only thing that will help with hydration, food itself can too! Eating a well-balanced diet will ensure energy needs are being met as well as increased fluids obtained from nutrients. A diet rich in fruit, vegetables, and whole grains will provide enough vitamins and minerals to support daily functioning and give the body the energy it needs to perform proper functioning. Limiting coffee, alcohol, and caffeinated drinks will help your body retain the fluids that have been replenished as these liquids act as a diuretic, leaching water out of the body.
How much food should I be having?
3 well-balanced meals followed by 2-3 snacks will support the body’s energy needs. In addition, give you an opportunity to rest and digest before continuing the previous activity.
While we cannot control the weather, we can, however, give the body the best opportunity to survive through the grueling heat these upcoming weeks. Hydration is a crucial part of survival and can be maintained through fluids, electrolytes, and nutrition. Dehydration can be fatal and cause unwanted symptoms. Limit as much stress as possible by replenishing fluids hourly, give yourself an opportunity to rest and consume foods high in vitamins and minerals, and monitor your electrolytes throughout the day with electrolyte-rich drinks and snacks. Don’t forget to support your body each day as you battle through the heat.