Joanne Smith and Kylie JamesSummer is almost here! It’s hot, and you’re busy, so you want to make sure you stay hydrated. A spinal cord injury affects your temperature regulation, especially if you have a cervical injury, so ensuring you get enough liquids is extremely important to replenish lost fluids and help maintain temperature control.

Staying hydrated is also important to maintain your energy level and skin integrity, and for you hard-core athletes who are doing intense physical activity for an hour or more, you must sustain your electrolyte balance.  Electrolytes are essential minerals in your blood and other body fluids that carry an electrical charge. People who are working intensely in heat can lose up to 2.5 liters of perspiration in an hour. When we sweat, we lose electrolytes and depending on how much we lose, there can be concern over electrolyte imbalances, so these must be replaced. It’s vital that the balance of electrolytes in your body be maintained because they affect the fluid balance in your body, blood pH, muscle action and other important body functions.

The first thing many people reach for to re-hydrate themselves in the summer heat is a cold, colorful sports drink. While these may help keep you cool and replenish your electrolytes, they are loaded with artificial flavors, colorings and refined sugar. Instead, next time you need to quench your thirst, I highly recommend a natural isotonic drink that is more delicious and much healthier than almost all other beverages on the market — coconut water! This amazing drink, made from the water that is naturally filtered through the coconut husk as it grows, has these health benefits:

It contains less fat than milk and has no cholesterol.

It has fewer calories than fruit juices — one 8-ounce glass of coconut water contains 45 calories versus 110 calories for orange juice.

It has less sugar than other sport/energy drinks and soda — and the sugar it does contain is na