I'm Pickin' Up Good Hydrations...

With temperatures increasing here in the UK, staying hydrated is so important.  We’ve all been there, that creeping headache to remind us we’ve not grabbed a drink for a couple of hours, but like most things, it’s easier to make changes if we understand why we need to.  So let’s take a look at why fluids are so important to us as humans, how much we really should be drinking and some top tips to increase intake when we’re struggling.

Water is essential for life. It really is that simple.  Humans can survive for a relative number of weeks without food, but they cannot go without fluids for more than two to three days.  Generally, water makes up around 60% of body weight (ranging from 40-75%) and is essential for the correct and efficient functioning of all cells in all bodies. 

Water:
-          acts as a lubricant for joints and eyes,
-          is the main component of saliva,
-          provides the medium in which most things occur in the body,
-          acts as a cushion in the nervous system,
-          helps get rid of waste,
-          helps to regulate body temperature.

Total water intake comes from three usual sources:

Water present in food,
Metabolic water,
Drinking water,

The amount of water present in food, depends on the type of food it is; it is usually less than 40% in cereal products, 40-70% in hot meals, more than 80% in fruits and vegetables, and approximately 90% in human breast milk and cows’ milk.

Metabolic water is the water produced during the processes that occur in the body when metabolising fat, protein, and carbohydrates with fat producing the highest quantity of metabolic water.

It is estimated that roughly 20% of water consumed is from food, and the remaining 80% from beverages.  Whilst it is not necessary to drink only pure water, it is a beneficial choice. Other drinks such as squash, fruit juice, fizzy drinks, tea and coffee contribute to daily requirements too.

It is important to be aware of the sugar and overall energy content of beverages.   Dental health is also a consideration, as frequently consuming beverages containing sugar, such as fruit juices and sugar-containing fizzy drinks, can increase the risk of dental issues.

Caffeine is a mild diuretic but drinks that contain caffeine (such as tea, coffee, cola) also contribute to fluid intake under normal circumstances.   With alcoholic drinks, the dehydrating effect can be greater, depending on the type of drink consumed. Spirits consumed alone can contribute to dehydration.

Dehydration

Dehydration occurs when more fluids leave the body than enters it. 

We routinely lose water through:

-          Breath – humified air leaves the body,

-          Sweat to cool the body,

-          Eliminating waste by urinating or bowel movements (increased risk in cases of sickness/diarrhoea). 

The body is incredibly nifty in that it can monitor how much fluid it needs to function.  The thirst mechanism tells the body to drink more when it is running low.  Hormones also tell the kidneys to limit how much water is lost in the urine too (which is why dark urine is a sign of dehydration).

Signs of Dehydration:

-          Thirst,

-          Reduced urine output,

-          Dark urine,

-          Dry mouth,

-          Lightheaded,

-          Muscle cramps,

-          Palpitations,

How much do we need to drink?

The general school of thought is that we should drink 6-8 glasses of fluid per day.  But depending on your glass size, this isn’t always that helpful – so it equates to around 1.5-2 litres per day.  But the amount we really need to drink varies from person to person, depending on age, time of year, climate, diet and the amount of physical activity we do. 

Water requirements are increased in hot climates and when physically active. 

Some of the first signs we’re not drinking enough are headaches and fatigue!

However, drinking too much can also lead to water intoxication, which means that the sodium level in the blood gets too low!  So, balance is key!

Top Tips for Staying Hydrated:

-          Glow up your water – add a slice of cucumber, lemon, lime or sprig of mint!

-          Grab your gin glass, pop in some frozen berries and pour sparkling water over the top!

-          Keep a bottle of water at your desk!

-          Always order some table water if you are out for a meal!

-          Get into a routine – if there is something you do every day, add drinking a glass of water to the start or end of the task.  Habit stacking is a great way to make changes!

Let us know how you keep hydrated, tag us in your stories!