Much of the United States is experiencing a heat wave this week, so it’s a good time to revisit the issue of hydration.
With temps in the high 90’s and humidity making it feel even hotter, it is best to limit time outdoors if possible. But when you must be exposed to the heat, it is imperative that you drink much more that you would normally. If you are working or exercising outdoors, you may need a sports drink as well. Don’t reach for the sports drinks routinely however. While they have their place, they add sugar and calories you may not need. Athletes engaging in continuous, strenuous exercise need the sugar to fuel their muscles. If you are not exercising, the sugar will just be stored as fat. Electrolytes in these drinks are needed if you are sweating profusely, as that is when you lose them. For the average person, water alone would be best.
How much? On a normal day, a good rule of thumb is 8 (women) to 12 (men) glasses. That is what we lose through perspiration, normal metabolism and elimination. On a hot day, you need more, depending on how much you sweat.
Thirst not a reliable indicator of need for water. By the time we feel thirst, we are already dehydrating. Also, the thirst mechanism fails with aging.
Be safe. Drink water throughout the day. Eat fruits and yogurt, which have high concentration of water. And only consider sports drinks when you are exercising your muscles and sweating a great deal.