We all tend to associate dry, lizard-like skin as a casualty of cold, bitter winters. But there is a clear need to hydrate during the summer to help keep skin supple, as well as to ensure good health and well-being.
Summer can dehydrate – as the sun and being active will leach the water right out not just your skin but your entire body.
What is Dehydration
Dehydration is a lack of enough water in the body for it to use to keep healthy, and the body uses water in myriad ways. Dehydration can be mild, moderate or severe, and it can be exacerbated through normal actions of perspiring, tears and blinking, and salivation. More water is lost through vomiting, diarrhea, excessive sweating (such as in sports competition), and excessive urination as from diabetes or medications.
And if you are not constantly replenishing water content, symptoms can occur, especially if you are outdoors a lot in the summer, playing, tanning and swimming (and no, being immersed in water does not add to hydration, but salt water and chlorine can worsen skin drying). Symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration besides dry skin are dark yellow urine, thirst, dry or sticky mouth, muscle cramps and headache. When dehydration is more severe, you may likely feel dizzy, have tachycardia (rapid heartbeat), rapid breathing, potential fainting, lack of energy/fatigue, confusion and irritability.
And further of note, according to the same source: if you are active outside in hot and humid weather, you are more prone to dehydration due to the inability to cool down effectively as the perspiration won’t evaporate.
The role of electrolytes
Many people know that after a bout of dehydration-inducing vomiting or diarrhea, or sports competition, drinking water with electrolytes (eg, Gatorade®, et al.) is highly recommended. But most people are also rather hard pressed as to why electrolytes are important during rehydration. Electrolytes are essential minerals found in perspiration, urine and blood, and include: sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium, calcium, phosphate and bicarbonate. These minerals carry an electric charge and are used for multiple functions necessary to maintain healthful balance and function.
But if you think that it’s all about drinking bottle after bottle of water, a chore for sure, it doesn’t have to be. After all, who wants to have to keep going to the bathroom especially when outdoors at the beach or pool or park?
Just plain water may be the best liquid for your body to keep hydrated and healthy but it can also be boring. However, sodas and juices and sweetened or chemical-containing beverages really don’t quench thirst and are not the most effective at rehydrating. So, to “un-borify” your water, infuse it! Just add your favorite fresh fruit and let sit. Then pour over ice and enjoy.
As there is frequently an exception to a rule, here, coconut water naturally contains several electrolytes (calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium).
Also, to ensure your body has enough hydration drink before you eat, especially before a snack. Often your body is sending “hydrate me” rather than “feed me” signals. Bonus: you will also eat less, and will therefore keep a healthy weight and desirable shape. Also, try starting your day with a glass of water before your morning wake-up beverage.
Eat water-containing foods. Your produce aisle will help you obtain the water amount you need without having to drink it all. For example, cucumbers are composed of 97% water, celery, 96%; tomatoes, 95%; bell peppers, 93%, cauliflower and watermelon 92%, spinach, strawberries and broccoli, 91% and grapefruit, 90%.
Soaking chia seeds before ingesting will also help preserve hydration and retaining electrolytes, especially prior to marathons or other fitness activities and more especially if those sports are performed in the summer heat. Chia seeds can soak up nearly 12 times their weight in water, which will slowly be released in your body.
There is a significant link between inner lack of sufficient water and skin – which is composed of approximately 65% water. Skin cells need water to renew and revitalize and to function optimally as both a barrier and a sieve to release toxins and perspiration. Any state of dehydration will cause the body to route available water to vital organs.
Underneath the visible layer (stratum corneum) lies a fat layer composed of cholesterol, fatty acids and ceramides. Ceramides attract and hold onto moisture to fortify the lipid barrier to prevent water from evaporating excessively. There is a link between ceramide amount and water amount; the dryer the skin, the fewer the ceramides.
Additionally, enzymes in the skin require water to prevent infectious bacteria from infiltrating.
How Probiotics Hydrate Skin
Believe it or not probiotics can support skin hydration and therefore keep it looking more youthful.
One study was based on previous research showing that the strain, Lactobacillus plantarum HY7714, improves skin hydration and has anti-photoaging effects. The double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of 110 middle-aged participants examined the effects of L. plantarum HY7714 consumption on skin elasticity, hydration, gloss and wrinkle reduction in hands and face every four weeks for 12 weeks.
According to the researchers, “There were significant increases in the skin water content in the face and hands at week 12 in the probiotic group. Trans-epidermal water loss decreased significantly in both groups at weeks 4, 8, and 12 and was suppressed to a greater extent in the face and forearm in the probiotic group at week 12. Volunteers in the probiotic group had a significant reduction in wrinkle depth at week 12, and skin gloss was also significantly improved by week 12. Finally, skin elasticity in the probiotic group improved by 13.17% after 4 weeks and by 21.73% after 12 weeks. These findings are preliminary confirmation of the anti-aging benefit to the skin of L. plantarum HY7714 as a nutricosmetic agent.”
A Japanese study of 101 young women concluded that those who consumed a bottle of probiotic and prebiotic fermented milk containing Bifidobacterium breve Yakult and galactooligosaccharides daily for four weeks may “have beneficial effects on the skin that prevent dryness.”
One study investigated the efficacy of 46 strains of Streptococcus thermophilus in producing exoplysaccharides including hyaluronic acid – a substance that supports moist, youthful looking skin. The researchers found that six Streptococcus thermophilus strains were able to produce hyaluronic acid. The strain S. thermophilus YIT 2084 had a particularly high rate of HA productivity. This study, noted the authors, was the first to show that strains of S. thermophilus produce HA. They concluded, “The novel HA-producing bacterium S thermophilus YIT 2084 has great potential for applications in the medical, cosmetic and food fields.”
Beyond hydration in the summer, your skin needs protection against excessive harmful sunrays that emit ultraviolet radiation. Beyond slathering high SPF topicals, one probiotic strain may also help. A study showed that Latobacillus acidophilus IDCC 3302 consumed before exposure exerted an anti-inflammatory effect and researchers concluded that it can mitigate photodamage induced by UVB radiation, and “could therefore be used clinically to prevent wrinkle formation.”
Summer is often a time of activity, play, and fun in the sun. And although it can accelerate dehydration and dry out skin, keeping daily hydration as a priority will not only prevent dry skin but increase your overall health, vitality and well-being.