Summer Heat and Your Diet

How Sweating Affects Your Health

When you exercise or are outside in hot temperatures, heat is released from the body. Sweating is the primary means of cooling the body in warm environments. The sweat takes the heat from the body when it evaporates. What this means is that sweat is a type of thermoregulation for your body, allowing it to regulate, or control, its temperature.

You should know that sweat losses can exceed 1.5 liters per hour and as much as 10-12 liters per day with activity in very hot environmental conditions. It is important to note that sweat is composed of much more than just water. It’s also composed of:

  • Ammonia
  • Calcium
  • Chloride
  • Copper
  • Creatine
  • Iodine
  • Iron
  • Lactic Acid
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Urea and Uric Acid

You may recognize that several of these minerals are essential nutrients for your health, so consequently, when you sweat, you’re depleting your body’s supply. As a result, individuals with eating disorders should pay particular attention to their role in your health and the impact of their loss.

The Loss of Nutrients from Sweating

Here are just a few of the reasons why it’s important to stay hydrated and consume a healthy diet during the summer heat, even if your appetite is lacking.

Individuals with anorexia may already be suffering from iron- or vitamin-deficiency anemia before they even start to sweat! Symptoms of anemia— like fatigue—occur because organs aren’t getting what they need to function properly. Therefore, it is essential to eat iron-rich foods as well as meats and vegetables. A proper diet will help ensure that the cells in your body get enough oxygen which is necessary to keep you going and the body cool in heat.

Most women only get about half the calcium they need for their diet. Additionally, your body needs several other nutrients in order for calcium to be absorbed and used properly, including magnesium, phosphorous, and especially vitamins D and K. Low levels of calcium can be present in those affected by an eating disorder even before loss through perspiration occurs. It is important for anyone, especially those suffering from eating disorders, to keep their calcium levels in a healthy range to maintain muscle tone, cardiac function, and control of blood pressure.

If you have an eating disorder, especially bulimia, you may want to pay attention to your potassium intake. Potassium is one of your body’s most important electrolytes and plays an integral role in fluid balance, muscle contraction, nervous system function, blood pressure, heart health, and bone health. Nearly 70% of the potassium in your body is found in bodily fluids like sweat. Eating potassium-rich foods such as bananas, fresh fruits, especially citrus and melons, and vegetables, especially leafy greens and broccoli is important to maintain adequate potassium levels in your blood.

Excellent Foods for Hot Weather

So, how can you make sure you consume the right foods during the summer? There are many fantastic foods that all come into season during the warmer months. Foods such as fruits, berries, asparagus, cucumbers, squash, corn, and tomatoes, just to name a few, all have a cooling effect on your body and are bountiful during the summer months.

Melons, which are made up of 90% water, are great at regulating your body temperature. Watermelons, for example, are rich in electrolytes and are an excellent source of vitamin A and potassium.

Berries, such as strawberries, contain a good amount of minerals like potassium, fluorine, copper, iron, and iodine. Manganese is also found in berries which is necessary for brain and nerve function. Fresh berries are an excellent source of vitamin C for the growth and repair of body tissues and copper for the production of red blood cells.

Believe it or not, soup is an excellent food to consume during the summer due to the sodium levels they typically contain. Sodium is in fact, the most important electrolyte present in your body. It helps maintain fluid balance and aids in the absorption of certain nutrients from the digestive tract such as glucose.

Salmon, shellfish, tofu, and nuts are just a few of the foods that help replace phosphorus that has been lost through perspiration. Deficiencies in phosphorus can lead to lowered appetite, anemia, muscle pain, and a weakened immune system.

Because staying hydrated is more of a challenge in the summer months, it is important to avoid diuretics, alcohol, and caffeine as much as possible since these stimulate the kidneys to excrete more water. Water not only helps to keep your body cool, but water is also essential for digestion. Even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you tired. The adequate intake of water for women is 2.2 liters, or about 9 cups, per day. In the summer months, it is vital to replenish your fluids as frequently as possible.

We Can Help

There’s no doubt that hot weather can impact your appetite which, in turn, can affect an existing eating disorder or be the catalyst for an eating disorder issue. Being conscious of this is important so you can be prepared and take appropriate steps to stay healthy. The Meadows Ranch understands the challenges of eating disorders and is there to help.

For information about the world-class individualized treatment for eating disorders offered by The Meadows Ranch, call to speak to a Counselor at 866-390-5100 and we will contact you with the information you need.

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