August is in full swing which means that everyone is trying to soak up all of the summer activities and rising temperatures before fall creeps around. Staying hydrated is key to ensure that you are in tip-top shape to enjoy the last days of summer fun safely. With all of the sunshine and heat this time of year brings, it’s also important to be aware of the signs of dehydration, sunstroke and heatstroke
How Much Water Do You Really Need?
You probably need to be drinking more water than you think. 60 percent of our bodies are water - a significant amount! We lose water through sweating, breathing, urinating and in our bowel movements. The age-old ‘8 glasses per day’ may not actually be the golden standard for water intake. This is especially important if you are playing any sports, working out or being active in the heat and sun. So how much do you really need?
Recommended total water intake from The Institute of Medicine:
- Women: 9 cups or 2.2 litres
- Men: 13 cups or 3 litres
Remember that this suggestion includes all of the water in your food and beverages. You may need more or less depending on your health history or if you are doing increased activity or sweating.
3 Easy Tips to Increase Hydration
1) Up Your Fruit and Veggie Intake
- 20 percent of our total water intake comes from food. Upping fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet is an easy way to stay hydrated and increase nutrients.
- Watermelon, lettuce, spinach and cucumber all have a high water content.
2) Watch Out for Sugar in Drinks
- Sugar is added to many beverages including juices, sodas and sports drinks. Sugar intake can add up when you’re trying to make your hydration quotas.
- Instead, brew herbal teas such as peppermint, ginger or hibiscus and keep them chilled to sip throughout the day.
- Add in fresh herbs such as mint and basil for added flavour.
3) Keep Electrolytes in Check, But Don’t Assume You Need a Sports Drink
- The human body is very good at controlling electrolytes (minerals in the body that have an effect on water absorption), however, if you are doing intense workouts you might need an extra boost.
- If you are doing activity that gets your heart rate up for more than an hour, it may be a good idea to replenish with a sports drink. Also, if you are outside for hours and sweating a lot, you may also benefit from a sports drink.
- If you are doing light activity, you probably don’t need a sports drink to replenish electrolytes.
- Pre-packaged sports drinks contain high amounts of sugar, artificial food colouring and other additives - making your own is a great option. Check out the recipe below to make your own:
Homemade Electrolyte Sports Drink
Makes 4 servings. Adapted from
2 Tbsp maple syrup or honey
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon/lime juice
½ cup no sugar added fruit juice - ie orange, pineapple or apple
4 cups water or coconut water
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp baking soda
- Combine all the ingredients and stir together. Drink as needed.
Fluid and Electrolyte Balance: MedlinePlus. (2017). Medline. Retrieved 2 August 2017, from https://medlineplus.gov/fluidandelectrolytebalance.html
Dietary reference intakes for water, potassium, sodium, chloride and sulfate. Institute of Medicine. Retrieved Aug. 2, 2017. http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/DRI//DRI_Water/73-185.pdf.