This weekend I spent some time with a few amazing women at a retreat center in celebration of a darling friend’s upcoming marriage. Our individual health regimens brought up a few similarities I felt compelled to research and explore online, one predominant one being the need to keep our body temperatures down and stable in the hot summer sun.
Last summer, especially, I had an extremely nasty time with the heat. I was on a pain medication called Fentanyl -– a strong opioid that was delivered through a patch I replaced every ten days on various parts of my body. Because the drug was administered through my skin, I had a very hard time controlling the dosage when my body temperature went up and my circulation increased. I was warned of this, and it was an extremely tough few months, keeping my body cool in the steam of New York City or when trying to enjoy the little time I spent outside. I was extremely hot, all the time, though most friends said it was a rather cool summer. My skin was always warm, I was always tired and moody, if I moved too quickly dizziness would almost always ensue, and I had problems sleeping with the head from the bed below me.
So I explored a bit on how to keep cool, and have compiled a list of my tricks and some research and exploration for your viewing pleasure. Have tip of your own? Please drop them in a comment!
Dehydration versus Hyponatremia
Most of us are aware of what dehydration is: we excrete a larger percentage of fluids than our bodies need to stay hydrated, resulting in head aches and exhaustion. As the body is 70% water, the brain 85% water and the liver 90% water, keeping hydrated is obviously important. Hyponatremia is caused when, after extreme physical activity, we over drink water rapidly and wipe the body of essential electrolytes like sodium, potassium and chloride. Too much water floods the kidneys and then increases the water level in the brain, which swells and results in headache, dizziness, disorientation, and in extreme cases, coma and death. Don’t worry, though! Those are extreme cases. And the key to avoiding hyponatremia is to drink water at regular intervals, rather than consuming a large amount in one go, and by eating proper amounts of healthy foods.
Tip #1: Drink, drink, drink, and keep it interesting
Okay, I know it’s obvious that you need to keep hydrated when it’s hot out. But once basic principle to follow is to drink continually and in regulated amounts, not douse the body with one huge amount of water in one go. The general rule of 64-ounces a day to keep up basic body function is still tried and true, though obviously this varies from body to body. But other than coffee, soda and alcohol, which are diuretics, this doesn’t have to be just water. Herbal teas, low-sugar fruit juices, seltzer water, animal and vegetable broths and vegetable juices are all awesome ways to get both your water intake and some healthy electrolytes and vitamins. If you’re feeling particularly parched of electrolytes, try mixing 1/2 teaspoon each salt and baking soda in a quart of water… not as tasty, I know, but much better for you than a gatorade. Mint is awesome at keeping the body cool, so toss a few leaves into the water with a bit of lime and you’ve got a deliciously refreshing summer cocktail. Or soak some cucumbers in a pitcher of cold water, as they’re also naturally high in water content and are slightly diuretic at the same time, helping to flush out harmful toxins.
Tip #2: Don’t wear anti-perspirant
We’re supposed to sweat -– it’s our body’s natural way of releasing toxins through the skin while also naturally cooling the body down when it overheats. Wearing anti-perspirant restricts this natural cooling mechanism. Instead of wearing an anti-perspirant, try an all natural deoderant, which many natural companies like Toms of Maine or Nature’s Gate make. Click here for my blog on deodorants. Letting the body sweat helps us keep cool, so even though it makes us feel sticky, sweaty and sometimes self-concious, remember that it’s helping you avoid the nasty symtoms of hyperthermia and dehydration.
Tip #3: Keep the neck, wrists, and feet cool
There’s something to be said for old-school natural remedies. When I had a surgery a few years ago and was overheated in my hospital-daze, a very wise friend put cool compresses on my ankles, wrists and behind my neck. Now when I’m a bit overheated, I run my wrists under cold water. Works like a charm.
Tip #4: Freeze fruit and carry it along
I have an especially hard time waiting for the subway on a hot summer morning with the rising sun glaring onto the platform. So I freeze fruit and take some along in a baggie or crunch at night slowly to keep my insides chilled. My favorites are green grapes, with their high water content, crisp skins, and slushy insides, and pineapple, which gets deliciously sweet and tart at the same time when frozen.
Tip #5: Put your feet up
Many yogis believe that a myriad of health problems would decrease if we all just reversed the flow of gravity a bit every day. Elevating the feet is a huge problem solver when the body’s temperature goes up. So if you’re in a sedetary position, try laying with your butt close to wall and lean your legs straight up it for at least ten minutes, letting the blood reverse its flow and cool down the extremities. This is also particularly great for those with arthritis in the knees of general leg pain, as it reduces inflammation. Just put a cushion under your knees if you have joint problems to take the stress off a bit.
A classically trained actor, Jacqueline Raposo has lived with Lyme Disease, and other health conditions, since the age of 12. In moving from chronic illness to chronic wellness, she has explored numerous means to better understand and heal her body and now offers natural health remedies, medicine foods, and clear insight based on her personal experiences, research, and success. Visit her blog at Iamawholehumanbeing.wordpress.com to learn more about dietary and lifestyle factors in achieving greater wellness and balance.
© 2010 I Am A Whole Human, Being
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