It’s important to stay hydrated, especially during the summer months. The weather is heating up. It’s a time of “shedding. ” We’re getting rid of things—figuratively and literally. We shed our outer layers of clothing, and we frequently drop some “winter weight.” In lighter clothing, we feel freer and more buoyant. Energy goes up, libido increases, and spirits are lifted.
During the summer months, we spend more time outside and get more sun (and with it, vitamin D). We also exercise outdoors more often. We start noticing higher numbers on our FitBit step-counters. And we sweat more. With this increased loss of fluids, we crave cool, watery foods (what would summer be without watermelon?).
We lose a ton of water during the summer months, which means we need to drink a lot more fluids. Physical performance and physiological function begin to be compromised when you’re even 1 or 2 percent dehydrated! Research shows that being dehydrated by just 2 percent impairs attention, psychomotor skills, memory, and subjective state of well-being.
Another reason drinking a lot of fluids during the summer months makes a lot of sense: Our bodies naturally detoxify as the weather warms up (part of our “shedding” process), and fluid intake helps this process along.
I recommend doing a summer detox, which by definition includes drinking copious amounts of fluids. But you don’t have to go nuts with a detox, limiting yourself to broths or fresh vegetable juices, or subscribing to expensive programs of specially made juices. And you don’t have to drink only water, especially if you find it bland and boring. You can do yourself a lot of good by doing what I call a “tea-tox”—using cooling teas made with anti-inflammatory, naturally detoxifying herbs.
Light summery teas—unsweetened—are perfect for this, and perfect for summer in general. They hydrate you beautifully, and are less “boring” than water. And, when teas are made with some of the most powerful and healing herbs on the planet, they may also help you lower inflammation while gently helping your body detoxify. What’s not to like?
Here are four great choices for your summer “tea-tox”:
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is the spice that gives Indian foods and curries their characteristic yellow color. It’s a root plant that’s long been used in Ayurvedic medicine, and it contains bioactive ingredients known collectively as curcumin. Curcumin is a natural anti-inflammatory that can increase brain levels of a compound known as BDNF that may be effective at delaying or even reversing many age-related decreases in brain function. More important in terms of detox is its effect on the liver, which is ground zero for all detoxification in the body. Research shows that curcumin can blunt liver injury induced by all sorts of nasty things ranging from ethanol to iron overload, making it a valuable addition to your detox program.
Recommended – Numi Organic Tea Turmeric Amber Sun
Ginger is well-known for its uncanny ability to settle stomachs. But that’s just the beginning of the long list of things this amazing herb can do for you. There are few more versatile herbs in the botanical arsenal than ginger. It’s highly anti-inflammatory, a powerful antioxidant, and has been used for more than 2,000 years for its medicinal properties, including the ability to promote circulation and to stimulate metabolic activity. Ginger also has liver-protective properties. In a study published in the Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, ginger and chicory improved liver damage and restored blood composition to normal. I often recommend drinking water that’s been infused with lemon peel and ginger root, or drinking one of the better premade ginger teas.
Recommended – Alvita Ginger-Peppermint Tea
With the possible exception of pure water, there’s probably no healthier beverage in the world than green tea. Rich in plant compounds like catechins, green tea and green tea extract have been studied extensively for their benefits to weight loss, cancer, metabolism, and cardiovascular health. As far as detoxification goes, green tea polyphenols increase and support the activities of detoxification pathways in the liver, and green tea may even have liver-protective properties on its own.
Recommended – Revolution Tea Tropical Green Tea
Everybody knows the hibiscus plant for its gorgeous flowers, but did you know that when the flowers are made into a tea, it has a number of medicinal properties? Hibiscus contains anthocyanins and flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants. In fact, a landmark study of 3,139 foods found that hibiscus had higher antioxidant power than even matcha tea! And while hibiscus tea has a long tradition of use for such things as supporting healthy blood pressure and cardiovascular health, recent research shows that it may also help the liver. One study in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology showed that the anthocyanins in hibiscus tea significantly reduced inflammatory liver lesions and oxidative liver damage in rats.
Recommended – Gaia Herbs Organic Hibiscus tea
I’m a big fan of making my own tea using real tea leaves and herbal infusions. I often make a big pot of strong tea, infuse it with lemon and ginger, let it sit overnight in the fridge, and then drink it all day long. But let’s face it, that’s a pain in the neck and even I’m not motivated to do it every day. I recommend bagged teas as a great substitute.
So enjoy your summer “shedding,” and drink up! Your body will love you for it.
View our Summer Goddess Tea recipe.