Hydration: How it is Fundamental to Good Health
Almost everyone can admit that they need to drink more water in their day. Hydration is the fundamental of good health, but statistics show that on average Britain drink less that 200ml (1 glass) of water a day.
Adequate hydration is important for joint lubrication, metabolism, digestion, saliva production, body temperature control, nutrient absorption and water-soluble vitamin absorption, just to name a small few. It is needed for so many biochemical reactions and bodily systems to function.
When feeling ill, hydration could be a simple help as dehydration can lead to frequent headaches, dizziness, nausea, dry skin, lack of concentration, weakness, a build-up of toxins and so much more. Some symptoms of dehydration are a dry sticky mouth, feeling tired, headaches, feeling light headed, thirst and dry eyes. You can also use a urine colour chart to measure your hydration status.
The body is approximately 60% water and 90% of our blood is water. Therefore, a lack of water can slow nutrients and oxygen being transported via the bloodstream as it thickens and decreases in volume, causing headaches and the feeling of hunger as your brain knows it needs the nutrients and tells you to eat more! You have the nutrients in your body, but they are just not being delivered to the brain and muscles efficiently. Try and drink first and see if that alleviates any dehydration symptoms. If still you’re still hungry then eat. The effect of dehydration on hunger feelings and metabolism can lead to slowed weight loss.
We do get fluids from other beverages, but these may not hydrate you well and will contain other sugars, compounds and calories. They may also act as a diuretic, counter acting the hydration purpose of the drink. Its best to drink water which has 0 calories and you can even take in water from foods. In fact you can get up to 500ml of water a day from a diet high in fruit and vegetables. To name some foods with a high-water content and rehydration properties– watermelon, celery, cucumber, strawberries, lettuce and coconut water.
We are lucky to have clean water from taps in this country but whether its from the tap or bottled, its important to stay hydrated. You do get some minerals from tap water too, but no added sugar squash and flavoured waters are also good options or adding some fruit to water to make things more interesting.
So how much water should you aim to drink a day? As a general rule if you multiply your weight (in kg) by 0.033 you will obtain a figure in Litres to drink a day. E.g. 60kg x 0.033 gives you about 2 litres of water to drink a day. However, this is a general guideline and water loss or extra water needs need to be accounted for individuals in different circumstances. Normally 6-8 glasses of water a day is adequate for the average person and its helpful to spread this out throughout the day rather than chugging it down in one go which can put strain onto the kidneys. Nevertheless, any drink of water throughout the day is helpful to avoid dehydration even if you don’t hit your calculated target amount. It’s a good idea to have some water as soon as you wake up after a long sleep without water intake especially after hot sweaty nights to rehydrate and balance your body again. I normally carry around a bottle with me and sip this throughout the day as more of a ‘top up’. When I don’t, I immediately recognise the negative effects of not drinking enough water: drinking more water in the day will make you feel better!