In Australia, it gets so hot in Summer and we are constantly reminded that we need to drink fluids to keep our hydration levels up. But what are some great ways to do this and, how can we do it safely?
Can I over hydrate?
What many people don’t realise is that over drinking can be just as dangerous as under drinking, so it’s important to get your fluids levels correct and not ‘overhydrate’. Often we hear of celebrities that drink 3 to 4 litres of water a day and then people go off attempting to do the same thing, which unless you are undertaking a lot of sport or are working out in the heat of Summer, isn’t such a great idea.
How much do I need?
How much fluid/water do we need per day is a bit of a tricky question as it depends on the season, your body size, sex and activity level. In general, men sweat more than women as they have more sweat glands. Also keep in mind that the more sport you do, the more fluids you will lose and need to replace. We are often told to have 6-8 glasses of fluid per day, which is a good general guideline, though these glasses are not meant to be large or 500ml water bottles, they are the smaller glasses that most people have in their kitchen. To express it differently, for the average adult the 1-1.5 litre range is a good guideline but not a ‘rule’. Intake needs will also depend on diet; the more fresh fruits, vegetables and soups you consume, the more fluid you are already taking in. Whereas those who are eating more packaged and processed foods are likely not getting as much fluid via their food consumption.
One of the best ways to get a handle on fluid intake if you do sports is to know your fluid losses per hour during sport. An easy way to calculate an approximate fluid loss is to weigh yourself before and after a one hour workout or sports session and see how much weight you have lost. If you have lost 500 grams in that one hour, then you on average lose 500ml of fluid per hour during that sport. It is best to weigh yourself on a digital scale for accuracy and without clothes, as they can hold a lot of water weight after you have been sweating in them for an hour. Obviously if you have been drinking fluid during the hour you need to subtract that amount from your end weight as well. Its best to do this calculation both in summer and winter, as we can experience extremes of temperature in Australia.
What should I have?
So once you have your head around how much fluid to drink per day, the next question is, ‘what should you be drinking?’ Water is the obvious first choice and soda or cola are poor choices, but what other drinks can you consume to help encourage hydration, particularly for children who crave a more flavoursome way to get their fluids?
5 Tips to help you stay hydrated this summer:
• Miso soup or bone broth are not only great snacks, but also increase your fluid intake. There is a theory that if you drink hot drinks in warm weather it will actually cool you down!
• Hot water with lemon slices is a fabulous way to start your day no matter the season.
• Plain sparkling water or soda water with lemon or lime slices can be very refreshing in the heat
• Another favourite is mint leaves in water with ice. Mint is a herb that is cooling in itself and, when combined with cold water, can provide a much-needed reprieve from hot weather.
• Watermelon waters such as H2Melon can be a fantastic way to rehydrate. With far less sugar than your average fruit juice, they also contains many health benefits and antioxidants that are great for strengthening the immune system whilst keeping your fluids up. They also taste great with a few splashes of sparkling water.
• Iceblocks or popsicles are also a great way to cool down and hydrate at the same time. It’s easy to make your own by blending watermelon water, coconut milk and yoghurt.
By Kira Sutherland, Naturopath, Sports Nutritionist, mum to a 10yo girl and H2melon ambassador.