Diet, Nutrition and Hydration Tips for the Summer Months
With temperatures rising and longer days on the horizon, you can tell summer is just around the corner. That means fireworks, trips to the beach, barbecues at a friend’s house, and, all-around, more time spent outside.
Of course, you can’t enjoy the great weather if you aren’t healthy and hydrated along the way. Finding the balance of nutrients that’s right for you is important, and we’re here to help you do just that.
Focusing on Diet and Nutrition
Our bodies change as we age – metabolism slows down, we require different nutrients in different quantities, and having them (or not) can make a significant impact on the way we live our day to day lives.
Understanding those changes is the first step to living a healthy, lively lifestyle. And though many think that the second step is to exercise, that is not necessarily the case.
While being active plays a role in your overall health, it’s only a small piece of the equation. In fact, exercise only affects about 25% of our overall health. It’s proper nutrition that leads us towards a healthier figure, both inside and out.
Finding the Right Balance
As always, it’s best to consult with your doctor before making any major dietary changes. But if you’re looking for best practices to implement this summer, here are a few:
- Control portion sizes: Although America is home to some amazing food, we’re also known for eating larger quantities as well, which can be problematic as our metabolism slows down. To combat this, use smaller dishes when eating – studies have shown doing so helps control the portion sizes we serve ourselves and “tricks” our brain into thinking we’re eating more than we are.
- Mix in cooler, refreshing foods: Hotter weather has been shown to decrease appetite in people of all ages,but it’s still easy to find ourselves eating more sugary foods and drinks in the summer. Popsicles, ice cream, water ice – these items offer “energy” through sugar, but not much else, leaving much to be desired in the nutritional department. Next time you’re craving a fresh snack, consider making a smoothie with fresh fruits.
- Eat more fruits and veggies: As obvious as this one may sound, this food group offers the whole package for summertime. Not only do they provide the vitamins and nutrients we need, but fruits and vegetables also have a naturally high water content, making them a great supplement for folks looking to stay hydrated throughout the day. Next time you’re working in your garden or taking a trip to the park, be sure to pack some strawberries, carrots, cucumbers, and more.
Keeping Yourself Hydrated
Humans sweat more when it’s hotter out. We all know that.
What you might not know though is that almost two-thirds of the human body is made of water, and we lose that water through more than sweat. Some of our main organs like the lungs, kidneys, and digestive system even require it to do their job, making water the oil that keeps our proverbial gears turning.
The Benefits of Being Hydrated
Water is essential for us to live. Not only is it non-negotiable in terms of survival, but it also plays a significant role in all aspects of our health. So, naturally, we should drink a lot of it, right?
While we’ve all heard the adage about drinking 8 cups of water a day, the math is actually a bit more complex than that. Instead, it relies more on body weight.
Dr. Raza Ahmad, MD, from Penn Medicine explains that you should be drinking between a half ounce to an ounce of water for every pound of body weight that you have. The equation looks something like this:
(Your weight) x 0.5 = ounces of water consumed per day
If you’re exercising or outside in the heat for lengthy periods of time, you should consider drinking even more – about 1 cup for every 30 minutes. Doing so not only helps you produce more energy during the workout but also prepares your body better for recovery afterwards.
In fact, water has a wide array of benefits that can help you feel your best, especially in the summer weather:
- Improves quality of sleep
- Increases cognitive function
- Regulates body temperature
- Improves organ function
- Lubricates joints
- Prevents infections
- Aids in weight loss
So, next time you’re taking a trip out to the market or going for your weekly walk with a friend, consider bringing your trusty water bottle along to make sure you feel your best.
The Dangers of Being Dehydrated
Our bodies are depleted without water. Specifically for older adults, who have a naturally lower volume of water in their bodies and often take medications that dehydrate them, drinking the proper amount of H2O daily can make an enormous difference in how we live our lives.
Being dehydrated for prolonged periods of time can be dangerous, leading to things like kidney problems, seizures, cramping, and, in some severe cases, even stroke.
Dehydration is more common in warmer weather and climates and, therefore, requires more attention to avoid. For instance, feeling thirsty is not necessarily a good barometer for whether you’re dehydrated or not – by that time, your body is already dehydrated and asking for water to replenish itself.
Instead, here are some dehydration symptoms to look out for when you’re enjoying the outdoors:
- Dark-colored urine
- Dry mouth
- Less frequent urination
If you find yourself dealing with any of these, you’ll want to find the nearest water fountain or bottle nearby and take a few swigs. As always, it’s best to drink small amounts of water over time rather than in big chunks so your body has time to process it.
Take Care of Yourself This Summer
While everyone’s bodies are different, there’s one thing we all have in common – a desire to live healthy and happy lives. Taking the right steps in your day-to-day life can have huge impacts on not just how long you live but how well you live.
If you want more information on health and wellness resources available to you, be sure to view the rest of our website here at Searstone.