My favourite season is summer, the warm breeze, hot sun, bright blue skies, big full trees, long sunny evenings....I love it all! Most of the time I don't even mind the humidity (yes, I said it).
However, the heat we have been experiencing lately can cause stress on the body, especially for those at increased risk (babies and young children, elderly, outside workers, those being active or playing sports in the heat, etc.).
It's important to keep hydrated in this heat to help your body function properly and to keep your energy levels high.
Did you know that your body is made up of about 60% water?
Your body uses water to regulate body temperature (especially important during heat waves) and supports other bodily functions including digestion, nerve signalling, removing waste and toxins from the body and muscle contraction. It also plays a critical role in your energy levels, mood, and even the management of your weight.
It should be noted that our bodies naturally lose water through digestion, sweating, and simply breathing. So on hot days like today we tend to sweat more and therefore need more water to stay hydrated.
So how much water do you need?
You might have heard 8-10 cups a day and although that is a generally a good rule of thumb, the amount someone needs will vary based on the weather, their activity levels, their age, weight and height.
Using thirst as a guide is a great way to ensure you are properly hydrated. If you are thirsty, you are likely slightly dehydrated so pay attention to your thirst. If you can't tell if your thirsty aim to have 1-2 cups of water every couple of hours over the summer months. Perhaps set an alarm reminder on your phone.
Signs of early dehydration include: thirst, dry mouth, concentrated pee and perhaps headaches or general fatigue.
What about electrolytes?
Electrolytes are minerals in the body that are essential for normal body functioning. They play major roles in maintaining our pH levels, water content, muscle functioning and more!
Our kidney and hormones help maintain electrolyte balance in our bodies, common imbalances include too much or too little sodium or potassium. Some symptoms of imbalances include muscle cramping, nausea, muscle fatigue, and confusion.
Electrolytes are lost in sweat. Sweating is typically higher in the summer months when our bodies are exposed to the natural heat. When we sweat we lose excess water and sodium. In addition, if you are exercising (in the sun) you are likely losing more sweat and therefore electrolytes too. Eating well balanced meals at regular times throughout the day will help you replenish your electrolytes.
Top 5 tips to keep hydrated this summer:
1. Add flavour to your water
This is my personal favourite trick. I must admit I am not always the best water drinker, but having flavour in my water certainly helps. Use a combination of fresh herbs and local produce to make a tasty and refreshing water infusion.
My favourite combo (in the picture above) is strawberries, sliced cucumber, and fresh thyme. I have been using my lime thyme from my herb garden and the taste is incredible.
I also really enjoy these combinations:
Lemon, Ginger, and Mint
Raspberries, Lime, and Mint
Strawberries, Lime and Basil
2. Drink 1-2 cups before every meal or snack
Using mealtime as a reminder to drink is a super easy way to keep hydrated. Make it a rule to have at least 1 cup of water before each meal (any you have with your meal is a bonus). This is not only a great way to stay hydrated but also a great strategy to help reduce overeating.
If this doesn't work, try using a water tracking app or setting reminder alarms on your phone to encourage more consistent water drinking throughout the day.
3. Eat more water rich foods
Including more fruits and vegetables with a high water content in your diet is a great (and sneaky) way to up your daily water intake this summer.
High water content foods include:
Click here to download four amazing recipes that include hydrating fruits and veggies.
4. Avoid sugary beverages
Sugary beverages will actually dehydrate you further. Although there are some great sports drinks on the market, the average child or adult doesn't need these (they are usually loaded with added sugars). If you are worried that you are not getting enough electrolytes based on your level of sweating and activity, consider drinking a natural plant based fluid instead (e.g. coconut water). Something like coconut water can replenish your electrolytes without providing added sugars.
5. Keep a reusable water bottle with you at all times
Having a water bottle handy is KEY in drinking more. Invest in a reusable water bottle you love and bring it everywhere with you. Having water handy the second you start to feel thirsty will help you drink more. Perhaps fill up the bottle before you leave work and focus on drinking most of it on your drive home or find another time of day that works for you.
I hope you enjoy this summer heat, stay cool, and keep hydrated.
If you have any tips on how you like to keep hydrated, please share. I love hearing from you!
Cheers to happy and healthy eating (and drinking) all summer long.
Until next time,
Eat Right Feel Right - Angela XO