Water. Our bodies are approximately 2/3 water. As hikers, backpackers, and outdoor enthusiasts, water is one of our crucial
tools to bring and plan for while we are enjoying the great outdoors. Part of my “action plan” for my hike at high altitude (8,000 feet plus) to the top of Mt. San Jacinto was to stop every 30 minutes and drink a cup of water. This kept me hydrated and helped me to ward off altitude sickness – which I have struggled with on other hikes above 8,000 feet.
Here are some excerpts from a good article about keeping yourself hydrated written by Kristine Lockwood that I found here:
“The body is approximately two thirds water, and losing some of it throughout the day in sweat, tears, and urine is totally normal. That lost water can be easily replaced by sipping on some good ol’ H2O or other drinks (sorry — not the alcoholic kind!) and many foods.
But when the amount of water drops too low for normal body functions (like maintaining temperature, protecting organs, and getting rid of all the bad stuff in the body through urination, perspiration, and… other things), it can lead to dehydration.
Especially as summer approaches, it’s essential to be on the lookout for the common signs of dehydration (or what’s medically referred to as “volume depletion”):
Dry mouth. The mouth may be first on the scene by becoming dry or sticky. Saliva is 99 percent water, after all.
Lowered blood pressure, headaches, and dizziness. Blood may be thicker than water, but it’s actually about 83 percent water, and less water circulating around the body means less blood, too. This can lead to lowered blood pressure, headaches, dizziness, and even a rapid heartbeat as the heart needs to pump faster to make up for having less blood.
Muscle fatigue. Lean muscle tissue contains about 75 percent water, so when the body’s short on water, muscles are more easily fatigued.
Dry, cool skin. When the body’s dehydrated, it does what it can to hold onto to whatever fluid is left — even stealing water from Peter to pay Paul. The skin is the first place to be robbed of water, resulting in dry, cool skin.
Feeling lethargic and irritable.
Lack of urine. When the body’s short on fluid, no wonder it doesn’t want to expel even more! If the yellow tide (too much?) stops for more than 12 hours (or there’s only a very small amount of dark yellow urine), something’s definitely wrong.
Eat, Drink, and Stay Hydrated — Your Action Plan
The surefire way to beat dehydration? Start hydrating before that thirsty feeling hits. Drink plenty of fluids every day, and even though everyone is a little different when it comes to water requirements, 1.5 liters per day is a good rule of thumb .
Mild and moderate dehydration can usually be cured by drinking fluids to replace lost salts and fluids    . And while getting enough fluids during the day is important, not all beverages are created equal. Water is always a good go-to drink. Juice, milk, and coconut water are other great options . And after intense workouts or activities, sports drinks are a good choice too, not only to replace water loss, but also to replenish electrolytes and sodium, which are just as essential to replace   . Don’t be afraid to eat salty foods after a hard hot-weather workout, either — serious athletes can suffer just as much from low salt levels as from low water levels! Two things to definitely steer clear of are alcoholic and caffeinated beverages (such as coffee, teas, and sodas), which tend to pull water from the body and may actually fuel dehydration.
As far as avoiding dehydration, the proof is in the pee. Clear, pale, or straw-colored, urine is good. If it’s darker, keep on drinking.
It’s important to drink more during hot weather, but even humid weather, high altitudes, feeling ill, and even cold weather necessitate some seriously hydrating action. And don’t forget to hydrate during exercise and activities! For every hour of strenuous activity or exercise drink one additional liter of fluid.”
1. Water as an essential nutrient: the physiological basis of hydration Jéquier, E., Constant, F. Department of Physiology, University of Lausanne, Pully, Switzerland. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010 Feb;64(2):115-23.⤴
2. Mild dehydration affects mood in healthy young women. Armstrong, L.E., Ganio, M.S., Casa, D.J., et al. Human Performance Laboratory, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT. Journal of Nutrition, 2012 Feb;142(2):382-8.⤴
3. Mild dehydration impairs cognitive performance and mood of men Ganio, M.S., Armstrong, L.E., Casa, D.J. et al. Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine, Dallas, TX. British Journal of Nutrition, 2011 Nov;106(10):1535-43.⤴
4. Water, Hydration and Health Popkin, B.M., D’Anci, .KE., Rosenberg, I.H. Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Nutrition Reviews, 2010 Aug;68(8):439-58.⤴
5. Water ingestion improves subjective alertness, but has no effect on cognitive performance in dehydrated healthy young volunteers. Neave, N., Scholey, A.B., Emmett, J.R., et al. Human Cognitive Neuroscience Unit, Division of Psychology, University of Northumbria, Newcastle, UK. Appetite. 2001 Dec;37(3):255-6.⤴
6. Milk as an effective post-exercise rehydration drink. Shirreffs, S.M., Watson, P., Maughan, R.J. School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK. British Journal of Nutrition, 2007 Jul;98(1):173-80. Epub 2007 Apr 26.⤴
7. Rehydration and recovery of fluid balance after exercise Shirreffs, S.M., Maughan, R.J. Biomedical Sciences, University Medical School, Foresterhill, Aberdeen, Scotland. Exercise and Sports Science Review, 2000 Jan;28(1):27-32.⤴
8. Rehydration after exercise in the heat: a comparison of 4 commonly used drinks Shirreffs. S.M., Aragon-Vargas, L.F., Keil, M., et al. Sport and Exercise Sciences Faculty, Loughborough University, UK. International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 2007 Jun;17(3):244-58.⤴
9. Fluid and electrolyte balance in ultra-endurance sport. Rehrer, N.J. School of Physical Education and Department of Human Nutrition, Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand. Sports Medicine, 2001;31(10):701-15.⤴
Where are you hiking this weekend?
If you’re looking for me, I’m over the hill!