Hydration and Staying Cool in the Summer with RA
Staying hydrated is the key to a lot of things, like having healthy skin, experiencing easy digestion, enjoying lubricated joints, experiencing increased energy, utilizing easier movements, and maintaining adequate body temperatures, and more.
Struggles with staying hydrated
But, hydration can also feel like a chore when you have to pay too much attention to it. As someone living with both Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), my levels of hydration are of critical importance all day, every day.
I am intimately familiar with the challenges of staying hydrated and want to share some things I’ve found helpful along the way. For me, being well-hydrated can be the difference between manageable and unmanageable pain, inflammation, and discomfort.
Turning down my internal thermostat
During the summer especially, I find when I struggle to hydrate, I also struggle to keep my body cool. No amount of fans, air conditioning, ice packs, or cold showers can help turn down my internal thermostat.
And, when I’m hot, I have less of an appetite. And the less that I’m taking in overall, the less energy I have, the more inflammation I struggle with, the harder it is to cool my body and release the pain holding me captive.
3 ways to stay hydrated and cool
Sometimes, I need an option outside of plain water to drink. Sometimes, I've felt like I've had enough plain water to last me a lifetime and I couldn't possibly have one more sip. So, here's what I've found to support hydration in the interim.
Dress up your water
The ideal recommendation is to drink 6-8 8-ounce glasses of water (or 64oz total) each day. This can feel so boring, repetitive, flat, and frustrating!
Sometimes, I find myself at the kitchen sink filling up my latest water bottle or cup, and feeling like I wished that I was drinking anything but plain old water.
To increase my motivation to stay hydrated, I started playing around with adding fresh fruit or vegetables or herbs to my water! Some of my favorites include strawberries, cucumbers, lemon, lime, and mint!
If you want to get really fancy, you can infuse these into your water and store a full pitcher in your fridge, letting the fruits soak into your water for longer periods of time, increasing the flavor!
Adding fruits or herbs to your water makes the beverage feel flavored and fancy, but doesn't add any artificial sugar or change the nutritional value. Feels like a win-win to me!
Oral rehydration solution
When water just isn’t cutting it anymore, or you feel like you’re struggling to stay cool and hydrated with water alone, try an oral rehydration solution (ORS) like Pedialyte or Drip Drop.
I find especially when I struggle with GI upset or have a lot of diarrhea, an ORS is incredibly helpful to getting me hydrated again quickly!
Sold in powder packets, fluid replacement therapy is used to prevent and treat dehydration by mixing a flavored amount of sodium and potassium into your drinking water.
You simply tear open the packet, add it to your water cup or bottle, shake or stir, and consume! There are several flavors to choose from and they all help increase your hydration!
In addition to drinking water, I find that smoothies can be a big help for staying cool and taking in good nutrients when it’s hot out.
Keeping ingredients available in the kitchen and ready to use (ie: frozen pre-cut fruit, protein powder, etc) makes this an easy go-to option, especially when it feels too hot to cook!
What are your favorite tips for staying hydrated and keeping cool during the summer with RA? I'd love to read them below!
You know you have RA when [select all that apply in your experience]: