East Texas dietitians on how food and beverages help hydrate in triple digit temperatures

Published: Aug. 17, 2023 at 9:40 AM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - East Texas is entering another week of triple temperatures in the forecast, causing people to sweat and lose a lot of sweat. With the loss of liquid and electrolytes from the body, health experts are urging patients to replace it with water intake.

“Our bodies natural way of cooling down is sweating so when we’re outside in the heat, we’re gonna sweat,” Licensed dietitian, Patrick Burns with Christus said. “Its a good thing… but we do lose electrolytes and water through that.”

Another dietitian with Christus, Hannah Dunahoe explains that for extended hours outside, with the loss of electrolytes and sweat, it is important to replace those frequently, but in moderation.

“If you’re in the heat outside especially physically working for extended periods of time for over two hours, utilizing things like electrolyte beverages or athletes who are vigorously exercising for more than an hour, that’s where those can help to replace those electrolytes,” Dunahoe said.

Although it is encouraged to meet water intake throughout the day, Burns and Dunahoe warn patients that too much water could also cause damage.

“We want to prevent drinking too much water in a short amount of time cause that can cause those sodium levels to drop dangerously low,” licensed dietitian Hannah Dunahoe with Christus said. “Some of those symptoms: mental status changes, nausea vomiting, muscle cramps-- by monitoring just not drinking too much within an hour that could help prevent those things from happening.”

Though drinking water is the standard practice to hydration, nutrition also plays a role in making sure the body has enough electrolytes and water.

“Our food does have electrolytes in them potassium, minerals, sodium so it does help so it does help to replace the electrolytes lost outside when we’re sweating,” Dunahoe said.

A few of the foods that help hydrate include:

  • Milk
  • Nuts
  • Fruits like melon, cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries
  • Vegetables like cucumber and lettuce

During the heat, drinks with high sugar content, alcoholic and caffeinated beverages lead to a quicker dehydration rate, which is why they recommend most of the fluid intake comes from water and not the sugary drinks.

“Certain amounts of caffeine, that’s gonna have a diuretic affect as well as alcohol, just gonna cause you to lose water faster,” Dunahoe said. “That could include energy drinks, coffee if you’re drinking it all day long...and then sodas.”

A few of the ways to keep the body hydrated include:

  • Start hydrated. If it’s likely there is work outside or exercising, start hydrating before, during and after spending time outdoors. Trying to drink 16-20 oz. of water before any activity.
  • Listening to the thirst mechanism. If the body is thirsty make sure to drink a bit of water, but not too much as to not make someone sick.
  • Getting adequate meals to balance out the water intake.