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Hot times? Water is still the one

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POSTED July 20, 2010 2:42 a.m.
I grew up during a time when coaches believed that taking a salt tablet was effective in dealing with dehydration.

It made sense: This nutritional supplement contains sodium; sodium is found in sweat, which your body secretes during physical activity; salt tablet replenishes that sodium.
Salt tablets, after all, had been a staple at football training camps during the hot months of July and August.
Laborers used salt in the sweat-shop conditions of the factories in the late 1800s.

Soldiers during World War II took salt tablets in the hot, humid, and arid conditions in the jungles and deserts.

Thanks to modern sports technology, we know better.

Extreme athletes might take salt tablet but only with a sports drink, which contains potassium along with sodium.

Water is still No. 1.

Fitness trainers and some coaches might suggest that it’s best to drink water during workouts and Gatorade, the top sports drink on the market, afterward to replenish the electrolytes.

Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink, says the San Joaquin County Public Health Service.

With temperatures sizzling in triple digits, public health officials have concerns not just for the weekend warrior but also children, people with disabilities, and those with chronic medical conditions.

They see them at risk for heat stroke and heat exhaustion, and strongly urge folks to drink plenty of fluids. In particular, water and sports drinks.

Avoid drinking sweetened drinks, caffeine and alcohol. They act as diuretics and can play havoc with your body temperature.Worse yet are energy drinks such as Red Bull. They can pose serious health problems, particularly with its high levels of caffeine.

Public health officials recommend folks stay indoors during the hottest parts of the day, from noon to 6 p.m., and cool down with a shower or bath.

But if you must go outdoors, they urge to pace yourself.The early warning signs for heat exhaustion, for example, include muscle cramps, nausea, headache, fatigue and increased sweating.

The symptoms of heat stroke, which can be life-threatening, are confusion; coma; hot, dry skin with no sweating; elevated body temperature; rapid heart rate; and shallow breathing.

More information can be obtained at the public health services website at www.sjcphs.org.

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