Hot Weather and Drinking Alcohol

We’ve all been lectured about not swimming for an hour after eating, running with scissors, respecting older folks.

Sage words which we have adopted into our daily life. Rightly so.

But in South Louisiana with so many activities outdoors, and with a plethora of opportunity to enjoy adult beverages, do we understand and accept that even just sitting in a chair on the porch while enjoying a cocktail right now is unhealthy?

Sad to note but that is very true.

There is a combination of factors at work here and none of them can fit under the heading of Good For You. To begin, New Orleans hot weather and the combination of high humidity is generally tough on our systems anyway. Most of us who spend time away from shelter allow ourselves to dehydrate.

Humans need liquid to sustain our existence. We replenish what is lost through perspiration and the usual bodily activities, adding liquid by mouth with a variety of wet products. Water is usually the best replenisher.

Sometimes we don’t even know we need to replenish because by the time our bodies tell us we should drink liquid, we are already well along the way to dehydration. The mechanism which triggers thirst messages to our brain is not exactly a quick 1-2. So by the time we respond to such methods, other bodily functions are already approaching or are in distress.

But, you tell yourself, you have been taking in liquid with a beverage, sometimes beer or a cocktail. Those, however, are actually not delivering to your body liquids you can use. Alcohol is actually a dehydration substance. Surely you have had the experience of leaving a bar after having multiple beers and wanting just a simple glass of water.

The alcohol has negatively impacted your body’s need for liquids and salt. Alcohol furnished none of that.

Being outside, even just sitting under a tree, in this heat and humidity also negatively impacts your body’s operation. Liquid is lost through perspiration and evaporation. Then you drink and have to make frequent trips to the rest room.

All of those actions and reactions are normal, except when you steer your system to the edge. Drinking alcohol in the sun over a period of time brings that edge very close.

And let’s add in another factor: drinking alcohol in very hot weather could also make your body more sensitive to the heat. Instead of resolving the dehydration issue, you make it worse. All of your bodily functions, dependent on each other  for smooth functioning, put stress on the system which is left with no other choice but to go into breakdown mode.

There are some key decisions you can make, of course. In these weather conditions, minimize your time outside. Avoid staying in direct sun. Take frequent breaks from work. Exercise early in the evening after the sun has set. Drink an overload of water. Don’t drink alcohol while you are outside.

Or the best advice of all: wait for October before leaving an air conditioned area.

Truth of the matter and you are probably tired of hearing it, respect the temperature and the humidity.  All of what we have noted here counts double if you are over 55 years of age.