It’s not something we’ve been too concerned about historically in the UK, but keeping hydrated throughout the summer months may well become more of a concern; especially if temperatures soar, similar to last year.
Water makes up around two thirds of an adult human body; and even more for babies and young children. Water is essential for many critical bodily functions including blood flow, energy, mental alertness, concentration, joint health, sports performance, waste elimination, glowing skin and much more.
How much water do I need?
When temperatures start to rise, we lose more water through sweat - the body’s natural response to help keep cool and maintain core body temperature within a constant range.
Even without perspiration, the body’s normal daily turnover of water is approximately 4% of the total body weight in adults (equivalent to 2-3 litres / day in an average adult weighing 70kg) and 15% of total body weight in infants (equivalent to 1 litre / day in an average infant weighing 7kg).
An average adult should therefore drink around 2 litres of water daily; with higher amounts needed in warmer temperatures to compensate for the extra water lost through sweat. Most people will struggle however to reach anywhere near this level, increasing the risk of dehydration as temperatures increase.
How can I tell if I’m dehydrated?
The colour of your urine is generally a useful indicator of how well hydrated you are. Ideally, it should be a pale straw colour; the darker it is, the more dehydrated you are likely to be.
What if I’m exercising during the summer?
You’ll lose even more water through sweat if you’re exercising in the heat and will need to up your overall intake to compensate. If temperatures are particularly hot and humid and you’re exercising for more than an hour you may also need to replace electrolytes lost through sweat (the most common electrolytes found in the body are magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium and phosphate). Last year’s record high temperatures at the London Marathon is a classic example of when you definitely need to replenish electrolytes along with water to stay hydrated. For most people though, engaging in moderate exercise, a healthy diet should provide enough electrolytes.
Top tips to stay hydrated during the summer
✔ Take a water bottle everywhere – This is a message I give to all my clients, all year round and especially during the summer. Fill a water bottle in the morning and take it with you wherever you go. You are much more likely to drink water regularly if it’s readily available. Your water bottle then becomes a visual reminder to keep drinking too. Make sure you invest in a glass or metal water bottle to avoid storing water in plastic. Some water bottles even have a compartment you can use to infuse extra flavour such as chopped fresh herbs, cucumber or fruit. Anything which helps you to keep hydrated is worth doing.
✔ Flavoured ice cubes – Adding ice cubes to water instantly makes it more palatable and refreshing in the summer. You can take this one step further by finely chopping fresh herbs and place them in your ice cube tray before you fill with water and freeze. I love mint, thyme & basil; either separately or as a mix.
✔ Frozen citrus wedges – This tip came from my lovely Aunty Liz many years ago and it’s become a mainstay in our house ever since. Chop fresh lemon / lime / orange / grapefruit into slices and then place in the freezer. Add a couple of slices to a glass of water to give it a fruity taste and keep it cool. Kids love this too.
✔ Watermelon & cucumber – Both watermelon and cucumber are packed with water and crucial nutrients, and make for a refreshing snack during the summer. Chop up some watermelon & cucumber wedges, sprinkle with fresh chopped mint, a squeeze of lime juice, and enjoy a hydrating snack when temperatures rise.
✔ Iced tea – I discovered a love of iced tea and coffee during a trip to Australia in my twenties and have experimented with these ever since. You can make a refreshing iced tea with herbal / fruit / green tea. Simply make the tea as you would normally; allow to cool, add some ice and enjoy!
✔ Homemade ice lollies – You can take pretty much any smoothie recipe, pour into an ice lolly mould and enjoy your own homemade ice lollies throughout the summer. Try this recipe from Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar book for avocado and coconut popsicles. Coconut water is packed with potassium to support hydration. Writing this article reminded me of this delicious, refreshing recipe so I’ve just made a batch myself! Perfect for the heatwave that’s forecasted as I write!!
Summer Hydration Recipe
Avocado & coconut water popsicles
You will need:
- 1 large ripe avocado
- 200ml coconut cream
- Juice of 1 lime
- 3 tablespoons coconut water
- 1 tablespoon rice malt syrup
- 1 teaspoon chia seeds
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Blend all of the ingredients in a food processor or use a stick blender. Beat to a creamy liquid. Spoon the mixture into ice cream moulds, insert the sticks and freeze for at least 4 hours.
I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson