Scorching. Blistering. Melting. If you're in the South East Asian region, you've probably been experiencing the spike in temperatures the past week or so.
More people are falling ill and there have been reported cases of fainting on the streets due to the heat. Other symptoms of heat stroke include fever, cramps and seizures.
Here are a few ways to keep yourself healthy during this heatwave.
1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
The average person consumes 2.7 - 3.7 litres of water from drinking and eating. However, when the heat is on, your body is bound to lose more water. Furthermore, high humidity (greater than 60%) makes sweat evaporation difficult. If you are working out in a hot and humid environment, you may lose up to 2 litres of water per hour. You cannot "catch up" by drinking extra water later because only about 950 ml of water per hour can pass out of the stomach. A general recommendation is to drink 700 ml of non-caffeinated fluid 2 hours before exercising. While exercising, consume 250 ml water every 20 minutes.
2. Avoid sugary drinks.
It is definitely tempting to reach for that can of chilled soda or frappe, but sugar will decrease the ability of the body to absorb water. Some guidelines on sugar content in those easy-to-grab drinks:
- Soda pop: about 10%
- Fruit juices: 11% to 18%
- Commercial sports drinks: 5% to 8%
Instead, make a jug of fruit-infused water. Pick your favourite citrus or berries and add it to water. Keep a few servings chilled in the fridge and you have yourself an easy, healthy drink! If you are on the go, the Fressko flask will be ideal for fruit infusions.
3. Reduce your intake of caffeine and alcohol.
The diuretic nature of caffeine and alcohol increases water loss through urination. Drinks that contain alcohol and caffeine block the release of the anti-diuretic hormone that is needed for water reabsorption. As a result, the kidneys do not reabsorb the water and instead excrete it as urine.
20% of our water intake comes from what we eat. Deliciously amazing and vitamin-rich sources of water include:
- Iceberg lettuce
Other recommended foods containing 70% to 90% water are apples, grapes, pineapples, carrots and peaches.
4. Cut back on high intensity sports.
Do flow yoga instead of hot yoga. Try swimming instead of running. No workout is worth dying over (yes, heat stroke can kill!). Take it easy and if you even start to feel nauseous, dizzy or have a rapid heartbeat, then quit immediately and get indoors. This is not the time to "push through."
5. Boost your body’s electrolytes.
Your sweat and urine contain potassium and sodium, two essential electrolytes that control the movement of water in and out of the body's cells. While most of us already have enough sodium from our diets, you can up find potassium from bananas and nuts. Too much sodium can draw water out of the body cells though, increasing the risk of dehydration.
6. Externally cool your body.
A quick way to bring the body temperature down is to have a cold shower. Keep some damp face towels in the fridge for a delightful freshening up. Another handy method is keeping a small bottle of water that you can spritz on yourself. The water droplets act as artificial sweat and cool the body through evaporation.
7. Know when to get help.
Look out for signs such as extremely hot to the touch skin, confusion and blurred vision. Heat exhaustion can evolve rapidly into heat stroke. Do not delay the onset of cooling while waiting for an ambulance or you increase the risk of tissue damage and prolonged hospitalisation. In severe cases, the victim may lapse into a coma in less than 1 hour. The longer a coma lasts, the lower the chance for survival, hence immediate attention must be administered.
Listen to your body. Stay indoors when you can, and wear light, breathable clothes and a hat. Remember that by the time you feel thirsty, you might already be dehydrated! Stay well hydrated and live healthy.