Another heat wave is about to sweep through the American West... and Japan just experienced its hottest day in recorded history.
Here in the Northeast – neither a barren desert nor a tropical climate – it’s been so hot and humid that when you take one step out the front door, your face starts dripping.
Even if your mouth doesn’t feel as dry as a bone… chances are, you’re dehydrated.
Now, we know that our bodies are supposed to be comprised of up to 60 percent water. And not having enough hydration can mess with our body temperature regulation… digestion… and waste elimination.
But a new study shows that there’s something else at stake when you’re losing more water than you’re taking in: your brain.
Believe it or not, it should be pretty watery up there in your skull – as much as 73 percent water in your brain tissue !
And when the folds of your brain start to dry up like ripples in the sand of a desert dune, it doesn’t just make your head a little fuzzy. It can put you in the crosshairs for an accident.
Think about it. When you’re driving, you use some of the most important skills you’ve got: reaction time, divided attention (paying attention to more than one thing at once), and coordination.
And those are three factors that are compromised the most when the summer heat – or even a little exertion – sucks the water right out of you.
It doesn’t even take a severe level of dehydration… or getting “dried out” over a long period of time… because in this latest meta-analysis, researchers found that you can become severely impaired after losing just 2 percent of your body’s mass in the form of water.
And it could happen more easily than you might think.
Researchers say that you could lose as much as 2 pounds of fluid – that’s 1 percent if you weigh 200 pounds -- after just an hour of activity of moderate intensity on a day that’s in the mid-80s with moderate humidity.
But if you’re active a little longer… and the mercury and humidity start to rise… you could get into real trouble, real quick.
When that happens, you DON’T want to be behind the wheel (or operating any heavy machinery, for that matter).
So, don’t let it happen in the first place! Here are four tips to keep your plump, juicy brain from turning into a raisin this summer:
1. Bring a nice, cool bottle of water with you to have in the garden, on the links, AND in the car. Sip from it regularly, but don’t guzzle – too much hydration too quickly could waterlog your brain.
2. Don’t cut sodium out. You lose salt when you sweat, and your body needs some salt in order to retain the water you’re drinking.
3. Limit exertion to the coolest times of day – early morning and late afternoon to early evening – to limit loss of fluid from sweating.
4. Avoid caffeinated drinks, which have a diuretic effect.
And for pity’s sake, if you’ve got an air conditioner, turn it on! If you don’t have one… and can’t get one… don’t hesitate to go to one of those “cooling centers” that some cities set up this time of year.