Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Spreading Wellness: How do you stay hydrated, especially in the recent heat?

It was the championship game of the Copper Country Women's Fastpitch Softball League, and as usual, it was our hottest weekend of the year. As the long-time second baseman (about 15 years at that point), and 2nd batter/bunting specialist, I knew the competitors well, and positioned myself in the field for each hitter. Strategy. For me, that is what makes fastpitch such fun. But, mid-way through the championship game, the heat began to take its toll on me, and I had to pull myself out...the toughest sports call I've ever made, but I was sick. My body and mind remembered the time before 3rd grade when I was hospitalized with IV's for dehydration, and I could feel myself slipping on the hydration scale (Mayo Clinics Dehydration Symptoms link here)...nausea, headache, dizzy, hot and clammy, and mind foggy...Seeking shade, water, salt, potassium, and cool rags, I sat down on the brick wall of the dug-out, and leaned against the structure to watch the game...trying to coach my replacement from the bench, but realizing she didn't have as much confidence in my strategic positioning as I did. As I watched balls get past her, in the exact spot I told her to position herself, I wondered if I had made the right decision by coming out of the game. That was tough, but it was a game, and she was young. She was gaining experience, and I needed to embrace that. I don't get competitive with very many sports, but fastpitch is my passionate team sport, and it was hard to watch from the bench. When I would stand up to try and coach, I would get an overwhelming feeling of nausea and dizziness, and I knew I had made the right decision, but that was one difficult championship game to stand by and watch.

The past few weeks have been hotter than normal here in Duluth, and our household has had discussions on how to stay hydrated. Are sugary beverages the answer, just to make certain that everyone drinks fluids? Is plain water the best answer? What if people don't like plain water? And, what about those energy drinks?! These are all good questions, and there is not one right answer. With these topics in mind, and trying to keep my mind open (since my hubby and I differ on the sugar added to beverages topic), I set out to research the science, and find out what the experts say. Why? Because yes, I am a science and research freak. :)
Photo by: Jodi L. Tervo Roberts
Sun-steeped herbal tea, with ice.

My first search was for peer-reviewed articles, and I came across a review from the UK. Health and Hydration: A review. It answered many questions, but not all. Page 13 talks about sports drinks, Page 16 has a table that provides a summary of some pros and cons to a variety of fluid options, and pages 21 and 22 provide a nice conclusion to the topics that they researched.

The above review did not touch on sugary beverages and the links to adverse health conditions, so I went to the Mayo Clinic's website to find out what they had to say about this topic...because this is the topic I hear discussed quite often in my circle of family, friends and colleagues. The article, Added Sugar: Don't get sabatoged by sweeteners, talks about how much sugar is in our diets, it provides a nice background, prior to reading the other two articles that I found pertinent to this blog. Have you wondered about the energy drinks and how many are consumed by kids and adolescents? Read this to find out more from the Mayo Clinic, Can energy drinks really boost a person's energy?  Finally, Jennifer K. Nelson, RD, wrote an article challenging the readers to take a 2 week break from sugar added foods. The comments are fun to read as well. Read her article, Sugar challenge: Cut the sweetness for two weeks, by clicking the link. What do you think? What are your conclusions? Do you think you can stay hydrated without adding sugar to your drinks? In the end, my conclusion is that there are many ways to stay hydrated, and limiting the amount of added sugar (and caffeine) is a good idea. Something that I like to do is add real food to water and let the flavor infuse, or steep herbal tea. Then I consume the flavored drink with real fruit and vegetables, fiber and all.

Please share with us: How do you stay hydrated, especially in the recent heat?

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