Did you know that 60% of an adults body is water? 60%!! Considering how many organs are inside us, how much hair we have, the skin that covers all our body – 60% of what makes us BE is water! When babies are born they are made up of nearly 80% water.
One of the most natural occurring elements in the world is the main thing we need the most to exist. If we don’t have water we quite literally cannot survive.
Below I’m covering a few topics including hydration, dehydration, signs of dehydration and I’ll also be busting some myths around staying hydrated. You will be surprised at how some clever marketing can trick you into thinking you’re doing the right thing by your body and keeping it “hydrated”!
Importance of being hydrated
Drinking water is not just to quench your thirst, in fact that is just the tip of the iceberg for when it comes to being hydrated.
Keeping your body (and mind) hydrated with good quality water is so important for functioning optimally, so that you can do all the things you love with ease!
Water is the building blocks of cells within our bodies. Think of cells in your body as the foundation of a house. Some of these incredibly small cells are bound together to create muscle, others divide and reproduce to create skin, while the biggest miracle of all is a fertilised embryo – a collection of cells that turn into a human!
If your house is not made from a solid foundation then it might sink in one corner, or perhaps the flooring will get a crack in it if it’s not stable – the same goes for your cells, if they are not hydrated effectively then you won’t be able to be YOU as well as you can.
Being hydrated has numerous health benefits additional to the optimal cell performance mentioned above. Below are some valuable reasons to drink more water:
- Helps to flush out toxins in the body
- Improves concentration
- Helps to move oxygen throughout the body
- Used by the brain to manufacture hormones and neurotransmitters
- Aids in digestion by forming saliva
- Helps to regulate body temperature through sweating
If you exercise regularly, you will need water to hydrate BEFORE you exercise, during and also after to recover. How much do you need, you ask? It’s recommended to drink 250ml per 15 minutes of intense exercise to maintain hydration. On an average day you should also drink between 2-3 litres to function optimally. Ideally this would be from fresh rain water, but filtered tap water is just as good. This 2-3 litres can depend on the type of weather you are in and how much you exercise, as when you sweat your body needs the fluid replaced to maintain an optimum hydration level.
Tips on how to stay hydrated
Sure it’s easy enough to sit here and tell you “just drink water!”. For a lot of people they don’t possibly know how they could fit any more liquid in their body, especially after their morning coffee, maybe a can of soft drink at lunch then another coffee or tea at afternoon tea time. They just aren’t thirsty! While tea, coffee and soft drink are sources of water, they are definitely not quality hydrating sources that nourish your body and not options I would encourage you to choose.
Below I’ve compiled a small list of how you could ensure you’re drinking enough water each day. Set yourself a goal each week to nail one tip, then try another!
- Start your day with a glass of water (break the fast your body has been in overnight!).
- Have a large (glass or stainless steel) drink bottle at your desk or workstation and place marks on it for how much you should be drinking by a certain time e.g 500ml by 10am, 1 litre by 1pm etc.
- Carry a drink bottle with you everywhere you go – in the car, to the shops, out to lunch, on your bedside table – everywhere! This has become such a habit for me that it’s just another thing I pick up when I leave the house like I would my car keys and wallet.
- Keep a jug in the fridge of fresh water, perhaps with some lemon or lime in it. Cucumber and mint is also a delicious combination, as is fresh berries in the summertime!
- Mix up your morning coffee and try a herbal tea instead. These are so many yummy flavours on the market at the moment, and they don’t even require any stirring like coffee does! One of my favourite alternatives to coffee is what we call Tibetian Tea in my family. My Dad went to Tibet a couple of years ago and every time they tried to order a hot drink they could never read the menu. One day they were made this tea and the only things they could tell were in it were:
- Lemon juice
- Sliced ginger
- cinnamon quills
- hot water
And it is actually one of the most refreshing, warming and comforting things I’ve ever drunk. The lemon, ginger, honey and cinnamon all have nutritious properties in them, so to combine them all into a hot drink is just perfect. Plus everyone I have made the tea for has loved it!
What is dehydration?
Dehydration is when more water is expelled from the body than what is consumed, resulting in an interference in the body’s normal functions through salt and sugar levels being altered.
Even a 2% drop in hydration can hinder your production of energy and your ability to exercise efficiently.
You can get dehydrated from ways other than not consuming enough water. This includes exercising intensely in warm weather, having diarrhoea, vomiting uncontrollably and also excessive sweating.
Signs of dehydration
- Feeling thirsty is the most common initial sign of dehydration. However, feeling thirsty can mean you are already well on to your way of being dehydrated!
- Feeling faint or light headed
- Dry skin that has minimal elasticity (doesn’t bounce back when pinched)
- Feeling sleepy or tired
- Urine is a dark concentrated colour, and frequency of urinating is reduced noticibly.
Below are some tips for overcoming mild dehydration, however if the symptoms are severe please seek medical attention as dehydration can be a very serious condition. Remember, prevention is better than cure so do your best to stay on top of your water intake. Adopting the above tips will ensure you are hydrated but if you do anything specific such as vigorous exercise or prolonged exercise (such as a marathon) or develop diarrhoea then you will need something extra to stay hydrated.
Overcoming mild dehydration:
- Drink coconut water. Coconut water is high in potassium and doesn’t have the nasty added sugars like sports drinks do.
- Eat some watery food such as bananas, tomatoes, watermelon, broccoli, cucumber and strawberries.
- Mix up a simple rehydration solution made from 6 teaspoons of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1 litre of water. Sip at regular intervals over an hour.
- Avoid any fluids that aren't water or coconut water to prevent further dehydration. - Most sports drinks promote fast hydration through electrolytes, however the added sugar content can outweigh this benefit. These drinks can really only be beneficial if you are doing intense prolonged exercise, not just a regular workout or sport session.