by Dan Moore, Prepared Foods Manager
This summer has been a bit of a scorcher, and now we’re heading into the dog days of August—those days when you can’t say, “It’s not the heat it’s the humidity because it’s both. Days like these, when the temperature is approaching 90º with high humidity, can lead very quickly to dehydration. Even moderate physical exertion can lead to dizziness, nausea, low blood pressure, muscle cramps, or worse. Every bodily function relies on proper hydration; next to oxygen, water is the single most important element for the body.
Most people don’t realize that they need better hydration until well after the fact. If you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. We’ve all heard that you should drink eight glasses of water per day. Perhaps a better rule of thumb is to drink half your weight in ounces per day. For example, if you weigh 130 pounds, you should drink 65 ounces of fluid—or roughly eight glasses. But if you’re my size, eight glasses isn’t enough. Make sure you are accounting for your body type—rules of thumb always depend on whose thumb you’re using. It’s also important to know that our bodies can only absorb around three cups of water per hour. So you need to keep drinking throughout the day.
The people most at risk when it comes to dehydration are the usual suspects—the elderly, infants, and those with suppressed immune systems. If you notice your infant is crying and there are no tears that’s not just a quirk. Your child may be dehydrated and need water and possibly some electrolytes. Another group at high risk are folks who are out in the sun for an extended period of time running around like madmen. In other words, kids at recess, football or soccer practice, or just generally on the lam. Coaches generally do a good job of making sure the kids get fluids, but in unsupervised settings they may be having too much fun to think about the fact that they are pretty thirsty.
Not all beverages are created equally when it comes to keeping you hydrated. Alcohol and caffeine can act as diuretics and can leach nutrients from your body. Water and electrolyte-enhanced water is the first, best, and most boring option. But if you want something with a little more flavor, try an iced herbal tea, fruit smoothie, or fresh veggie juice. Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of fluid, and they also provide nutrients to keep you going.
Many packaged smoothies, fruit juices, and sports drinks you find in grocery stores contain a ton of added sugar or high fructose corn syrup. In the Juice Bar, there are no extra sugars added to our juices or smoothies made with Oatscreme. Smoothies made with yogurt are also unsweetened, provided you aren’t ordering the vanilla yogurt which is sweetened with maple syrup. For hydration purposes, I’d recommend our Berries and Crème, Blues Buster, and Pink Passion smoothies. Each contains a minimum of sugars as well as berries high in both antioxidants and juiciness. When deciding on a fresh veggie juice, you can’t go wrong. Our apple and orange juice is made up of just that—apples and oranges. You can also make your own decisions as to what’s going in your juice. Veggie recommendations for hydration include cucumbers, celery, and greens. Other ingredients to look for in juices or smoothies include lemon, which acts as an electrolyte, and bananas, which provide potassium to help prevent the cramping that often accompanies dehydration. Items to avoid include high-fat ingredients like peanut butter, caffeinated ingredients like chocolate or coffee, or high-sugar ingredients like syrup flavorings. Ask the Juice Bar staff for recommendations for flavor combinations.