Temperatures are creeping up, humidity levels are rising and it’s getting hot! You can go outside and be pouring sweat in no time. In Beijing, however, hydration is important all year round. In winter, the dry air makes us lose water as we breathe, even when we’re at rest. In the summer, the air is humid and hot, causing us to sweat everything out. A decline in hydration levels, even in small amounts, can cause negative health outcomes. Let’s take a look at some of these and examine the benefits of hydration.
Let’s be clear: We need sources of clean, high-quality water. This is too complicated to get into in great detail, but bottled water – no matter the brand – is not guaranteed to be safe. The only way to ensure you have good, clean, healthy water is to filter it yourself. Many products do this; some do it well, and others not so well.
Do extensive research or talk to people who have first-hand experience of a reliable product. Specifications for a filter made in your home country will not necessarily be appropriate here. Look for a product that can handle chloramines and arsenic. Some of us research the car we want to buy down to the smallest detail. Isn’t it much more important to look into the system that provides us with the water we literally need to survive? Luckily, there are independent agencies around the world that test filtration systems; the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the US comes to mind. Only consider filtration systems that are certified by a third party such as the NSF.
Drinking plenty of clean water is crucial, especially when doing physical activity in extremely hot or humid conditions. An adult can lose up to 6L of water per hour in this kind of environment. I usually recommend around 2 to 3L of water a day for adults living in Beijing. Each person’s fluid requirements are unique, but a good benchmark is the color of urine, which should be pale yellow. When urine is too concentrated, it can contribute to the formation of kidney stones. Some cases of constipation are also caused by inadequate fluid intake. In children, dehydration has been found to negatively impact concentration, alertness, and memory.
On the other hand, staying well-hydrated allows our kidneys and heart to function optimally. There is evidence that proper hydration can decrease the incidence of urinary tract infections, hypertension, fatal coronary heart disease, venous thromboembolism, and cerebral infarctions. Drinking a full glass of water can often help relieve heartburn, hot flashes, and headaches. Fluid retention and joint pains can also be alleviated by drinking more water.
Children are especially prone to dehydration, one reason being that they are often too busy playing and are not aware of their body’s need for water. Remind your child to take regular water breaks and offer them fluids frequently.
Here’s to you and your family having a healthy (and well-hydrated) summer!
Photo by farm7 on Flickr
This article originally appeared on p24 of the beijingkids July 2013 issue.
Check out the PDF version online at Issuu.com
Photo by respres (Flickr)