Stay safe in summer heat - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Health Advice

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Stay safe in summer heat

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Posted: Wednesday, June 18, 2014 4:45 am

With temperatures on the rise, it’s crucial to stay hydrated and replenish your electrolytes. Whether you exercise intensely or your child participates in an outdoor sport or you’re a construction worker with a physically demanding job, you’re at risk of dehydration and electrolyte depletion.

Any time you sweat, spend time in the sun and intense heat, risk of dehydration and electrolyte loss increases. Adults can lose up to 2 1/2 quarts of fluid per hour through perspiration. This includes a loss of water and essential minerals — sodium chloride, potassium, calcium and magnesium (the main electrolytes) that are used in the maintenance and repair of all tissue, utilization of amino acids, and for physical and neurological function.

Some signs of dehydration and electrolyte deficiency include muscle twitching, cramps and spasms, irregular heartbeat, dizziness and fatigue. Those who experience leg cramps are often dehydrated and tend to have electrolyte imbalances or mineral deficiencies, specifically magnesium. Magnesium, the “anti-stress and relaxation” mineral is responsible for over 300 enzyme reactions in the body and highly beneficial for those who suffer from anxiety, insomnia, muscle twitching or cramps, headaches, constipation, insulin resistance, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Although there are numerous commercial electrolyte sport drinks available, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the ingredients. Most commercial sports drinks include excessive amounts of sugar, artificial sweeteners and colorings, high fructose corn syrup, caffeine, toxic chemicals, contaminated water and preservatives that are harmful and should be avoided.

Food sources

• Magnesium — spinach, mustard greens, arugula and other dark leafy greens, cacao, halibut, sea vegetables, nuts & seeds, quinoa, avocado, artichoke

• Potassium — watermelon, avocado, coconut water, Swiss chard, cucumber, broccoli, pomegranate seeds, wild salmon, halibut, bananas

• Chloride — celery, seaweed, tomatoes, olives, leafy greens

• Calcium — Dark leafy greens (kale, arugula, dandelions, spinach, Swiss chard, mustard greens, collards, watercress), sardines with the bones, blackstrap molasses, bok choy, hazelnuts

• Sodium — pastured eggs, raw milk, sea vegetables

Prolonged exposure to heat creates stress on the body. Heat is the No. 1 weather-related killer.

10 tips to beat the heat

1. Drink cool, not ice-cold water. Avoid soda, caffeinated and alcoholic beverages.

2. Replenish your electrolytes.

3. Check on elderly friends and neighbors.

4. Avoid storing water in plastic bottles in your car, garage or warehouse. Plastic contain Bisphenol A (BPA), a toxic, estrogen-mimicking, hormone-disrupting chemical that causes fatigue, cancers, neurological disorders, early puberty, cardiovascular disease, infertility, diabetes and obesity. The heat speeds up the process of BPA leaching into the water. Heat plus length of storage time makes it worse. If you’ve got cases of water sitting in your garage, you’re asking for trouble.

5. If you work outdoors, wear light-colored clothing to reflect the sun.

6. Restrict outdoor activities and exercising outdoors in the middle of the day. If you must exercise outdoors, do so in the early morning hours or after sunset. Always take plenty of water.

7. If you cannot walk barefoot on the hot pavement, do not expect your pet to do so. Press the back of your hand firmly against the asphalt or cement for seven seconds to verify it will be comfortable for your pet.

8. Keep pets indoors. Never leave a pet outdoor in high temperature heat for ANY amount of time. Never leave a pet outdoors without water or shade.

9. Never, under any circumstances, leave a child or pet in your vehicle, even if it’s for only 10 seconds. In 85-degree heat, a car can heat to 102 degrees in 5 minutes and 120 degrees in 30 minutes.

10. Seek immediate medical assistance for:

a. Heat exhaustion: symptoms include heavy sweating; pale, cool or flushed skin; weak pulse with dizziness, fainting, nausea or vomiting

b. Heat/sun stroke: symptoms include high body temperature; hot, dry, red skin (usually with no sweating); weak pulse; rapid, shallow breathing.

Heat affects everyone, including animals. Be smart — play it safe, stay cool and stay healthy.

• Paula Owens, M.S., is the author of “The Power of 4” and “Fat Loss Revolution.” An Ahwatukee resident for 22 years, she is a leading expert in nutrition, functional health, fitness and fat loss with more than 20 years of experience. For more information, visit

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