Hydration to beat the heat!
Summer is finally here and it’s already heating up. That’s why it’s more important than ever to keep ourselves hydrated during this time of year. So how should you keep yourself cool during these scorching days of summer? One word: water – both for consumption and for its therapeutic benefits.
The human body is 70% water, so it’s vitally important to consume enough water to supply our organs and keep them functioning optimally. The brain consists of 85% water; and in fact, human bodies developed from species that were first given life in water. The role of water in the human body hasn’t changed since the first creation of life in salt water, which later adapted to fresh water. Thus, the importance of overall equilibrium in the entire human system depends on water. (F. Batmanghelidj, 2008, p. 2) Water in its purest form should be your first priority for fluid consumption.
- Water regulates all functions of the body and acts as a transport system for all solutes it carries around.
- Water is needed for many chemical reactions in the brain to signal and receive messages through neurotransmitters.
- Water helps to maintain proper blood sugar levels in the body Water helps in regulating cholesterol levels in the body.
- Water helps in flushing the body of unwanted toxins.
- Water improves stomach acid by raising pH levels for proper digestion
Practical tips for staying well hydrated
As a general guideline, you should consume 6 to 8 glasses of water per day. Ideally, you want to consume an amount of water in ounces that’s equal to half your body weight in pounds. For example, someone weighing 128 lb should consume 64 ounces of water, which is equivalent to drinking eight glasses of water (at 8 oz. a glass).
Drink a glass of water a few minutes before bed, and take regular water breaks throughout the day – including one glass a half-hour before and after each meal. Start slowly and integrate more water intake every day, slowly making it a part of your daily regimen. Have a water bottle by your side all day; take water to work, to the gym, and in the car when you know you’re going to be on the road all day. While playing sports in the summer, drink more water because you can lose up to 2 liters of fluid per hour.
Note: If you suffer from chronic dehydration, don’t overload your system with water. It won’t compensate for past inadequate water consumption.
During exercise, it’s even more important to stay hydrated. Try to replenish your liquids every 20 minutes. Drink at least 1 liter of water for every 60 minutes of exercise, and be sure to balance your water intake with salt to stay healthy and well hydrated. For every four to five glasses of water, add a quarter teaspoon of salt.
If you’re training for a marathon, start building your water reserves gradually so you can rely on that during the marathon while replenishing your fluids as you lose them. And be certain to add some electrolytes as well. Alcohol, coffee, tea, and other caffeinated and sugary beverages do not count as water. Try to get pure distilled water, preferably distilled by reverse-osmosis. For patients with heart or kidney failure needing dialysis, consult your physician before increasing your salt intake.
What to avoid
Alcohol, Sugar and Caffeine: It’s quite common for people to overindulge in alcohol during the summer. Generally speaking, men do this most of the time during the weekends whenever they get a chance to chill with the boys.
Often enough, we add unhealthy, sugary caffeinated drinks to alcohol while forgetting to drink enough water to compensate. These sweet beverages could be sodas, iced tea or popsicles – and the list can go on. Commonly encountered at barbecues and beach outings, most people are quite familiar with what I’m referring to.
Alcohol and sugary or caffeinated beverages are all diuretics – substances that increase urination and flush fluids from the body, causing depletion of important minerals as well as salt and water. This can lead to severe dehydration, and in some cases alcohol poisoning – most often recognized as a “hangover”.
The toxic residue from complex organic molecules such as methanol and acetone can be found in some drinks that are responsible for hangovers rather than ethanol (alcohol). This view is supported by researcher Dr. Ian Calder, of the National Hospital for Neurosurgery in London. Some refer to this as brain fog or grogginess, not realizing the danger that occurs from brain cells shrinking and possibly dying in the process.
Keep it fresh and tasty
Coconut water, fresh and chilled, is a must-have for the summer. It’s my super food because it does so many things. It boosts your metabolism, keeps your body cool, rehydrates the cells, detoxifies and fights viruses, and transports oxygen and nutrients throughout the body, too.
Mauby Drink Recipe
This cool, refreshing summer drink is a perfect kick for a hot summer day, and it’s also a Caribbean favorite. It’s made from boiling buckthorn tree bark (Colubrina elliptica)into a syrup concentrate, and then diluted with water and ice. Mauby bark is a bit bitter, so sweeten to taste using stevia or honey.
- 10 large pieces of mauby bark
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 tbsp. of anise seed
- 2 drops of vanilla essence
- 5 cloves
- 1 pinch of grated nutmeg
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cups of water
- Start with 1 tsp. stevia extract (sweeten to your liking) – or substitute stevia with raw honey
- In a large pot, bring 4 cups of water to a rolling boil
- Add in all the ingredients except the stevia extract
- Remove from heat after 20 minutes, strain into a container immediately (3 ¾ cups)
- Adding 2/3 cups of the mauby concentrate to 1/3 cup of water and mix well
- Sweeten with stevia extract to taste
- Chill or serve over ice
Note: if mixture is too weak, add more concentrate; If too bitter, add more stevia
Herbs and Essential Oils
Herbal summer drinks have many healing properties, and there are specific herbs that have a cooling effect on the body. You can combine these with Aromatherapy food-grade essential oils for their synergistic healing properties. For anyone with chronic health issues, or pregnant or nursing mothers, please consult with a physician before using herbal and essential oils, as they can be very potent.
- Lavender Lemonade with Aromatherapy
- 7 lemons, peeled and juiced
- 2 limes, peeled and juiced
- 14 cups of water
- 1 ½ cup of Blue Agave
- 1 drop of Lavender oil
Mix all ingredients together and chill. Add more water or Blue Agave, depending on the size and tartness of the fruit.
Young Living Oils used in this recipe:
# 3221 Blue Agave (8 fl.oz.), or #3224 Blue Agave (32 fl.oz.)
#3575 Lavender Essential oil
- 1 drop of Young Living essential oil
- 1 glass of purified water
- For a pitcher of water (1 quart), you might want to experience more than one essential oil.
- For example, two drops of Young Living lemon oil and one drop of thyme.
Popular oils to use include
- Citrus fresh
Note: If you’re inexperienced with Young Living oils, for better control dip a toothpick into the oil and then dip the tip into your beverage. Taste and test. The oils are potent, so don’t overdo it, as the taste will be quite strong.
My Fantastic Four include peppermint, red clover, chamomile and hibiscus.
These herbs have traditionally been used to lower fevers and for coping with the heat. You can prepare infusions and chill before using, adding your own sweetener to taste. It’s recommended to add some fresh fruit for sweetness, and some freshly squeezed lemon juice to spice things up a bit. Although I don’t recommend alcohol on extremely hot days, if you feel the need to have an alcoholic beverage, I would go with a vodka option because it’s the least dehydrating. One of my favourites is a Watermelon Martinithat’s really light and refreshing.
- 3 oz. of vodka
- 3 oz. watermelon puree
- 1 ½ oz. sweet and sour
- 1 ½ oz. fresh lemon juice
- Optional: 1/8 tsp. of maple syrup
- Cut a seedless watermelon into chunks and purée in a blender
- Pour the vodka, sweet and sour and lemon juice into a cocktail shaker
- Add a few cubes of ice and shake vigorously
- Strain into a chilled martini glass and serve
And always remember to keep yourself hydrated and healthy.