Are you wishing you could stay as cool as a cucumber this summer as we continue to be in record-breaking heatwaves? Headlines are everywhere:
- It’s official, this has been the hottest July Toronto has experienced in 84 years, according to Environment Canada. With 17 days over 30◦C in July 2021 alone.
- Edmonton is posting record day and overnight temperatures breaking 84-year-old records and recording the hottest July on record.
Well, here we are at the end of August in another heatwave with the temperature topping out at 44◦C with the humidex. Need a few hydration hacks to remain cool as a cucumber? I’ve got you covered.
Health and Hydration
Why is hydration so vital? Hydration is important year-round, but especially in the hot summer months when it prevents our bodies from overheating and is critical for essential functions. The human body contains about 60% water. And the more muscular and younger you are, the more water your body contains. The brain, lungs, heart, liver, and kidneys all contain water, about 65-85%, and the bones contain about 31%!
The body also requires water to flush toxins out of critical organs and carry nutrients to the cells. Without enough water (fluids) your body won’t function properly, and it can be dangerous. Plus, did you know being dehydrated can leave you feeling tired, confused, and cranky?
How Much is Enough?
The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) for men is roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day.
Unfortunately, thirst isn’t always a reliable gauge of the body’s need for water, especially in children and older adults. A better indicator is the colour of your urine: light-colored urine means you’re well hydrated, whereas a dark yellow or amber colour usually signals dehydration. Also, The Mayo Clinic suggests checking your urine especially during and post exercise, plus in hot weather conditions. If it’s clear, pale or straw-colored, it’s OK. If it’s darker than that, keep hydrating.
Now that we know why and how much, let’s find some hydration hacks that will keep us hydrated in these dog days of summer.
Try Home Brewed Iced Tea
Not a fan of sipping plain water all day long. Perfecting your own iced tea recipe with less sugar is far more flavourful and nutritious than a store-bought mix or commercially produced ready-to-drink cans. Both black tea and green tea have antioxidants that help promote brain, heart and immune and health. When it comes to decaffeinated herbal blends, the health benefits depend on the components in the mixture. Since decaffeinated herbal blends tea is mostly water and calorie-free, it has the added benefit of being a great way to hydrate over the summer. Check out my Huffington Post blog when I interviewed Certified Tea Sommelier Raelene Gannon for her advice for brewing the best iced tea, along with my suggestions for adding flavour without extra calories.
Eat Water Rich Fruits & Veggies
My top two hydrating foods are cucumbers and watermelon! Cucumbers are naturally hydrating; they are often used in skin treatments because they are 96 percent water! I always have sliced cucumbers on hand in the summer, and they come in handy to refresh after a long day of travel. They are very low in calories and are a good source of vitamin C for immune health, vitamin K for bone health, and potassium for heart health.
Watermelon is one of my fondest childhood food memories. I love snacking on a slice mid-afternoon with a small amount of Greek yogurt. Made up of mostly water and natural sugar, watermelon contains both magnesium and potassium, which are important for regulating fluid in our bodies. Plus, it has the bonus of the antioxidant lycopene (giving it the beautiful dark pink colour), which supports immune and heart health.
Make These Two Ingredient Rainbow Popsicles
As we navigate the hottest summer in years, I’m always on the hunt for simple and easy hydration hacks. Instead of boring, store-bought popsicles that often lack nutrients, why not try these Two Ingredient Rainbow Popsicles? The recipe is from my friend and colleague Valerie Mitchell. I met Valerie a few years ago in Anaheim California at a Tradeshow Press Room. I’ve been impressed with Valerie’s recipes ever since. Valerie’s website Mama Likes to Cook is home to this recipe for Fresh Fruit Rainbow Popsicles. These ice pops are made with fruit and milk, but you can easily make them with dairy-free alternatives. So simple and pretty, just remember you need to set aside time to let them freeze, like overnight while you are sleeping!
Final Hydration Hacks
Always have water nearby – in a reusable bottle, in a pitcher in the fridge and in a glass on your desk.
Keep in mind, alcoholic beverages, are not recommended for hydration and need to be limited. Alcohol can pull water from the body and promote dehydration. My final hack is soup. Soup can increase your fluid intake and with ingredients like ginger, cilantro, and tomatoes it can be quite refreshing. And of course, chilled soups like gazpacho can become a summertime favourite. Tell me – What is your favourite hydration hack?
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