The Importance of Staying Hydrated
With the hot weather we’ve been having recently I thought it might be a timely reminder of the importance of staying hydrated. Most people are aware of the importance of staying hydrated. That said many people either don’t give it much thought or find it a challenge, so more often than not don’t manage it. At the beginning of a kinesiology treatment I test to check the body is hydrated enough to give accurate feedback. Interestingly when testing humans over 90% need to drink some water before we can carry on yet when testing on behalf of animals they are nearly always hydrated enough to move on with the session.
Water constitutes over half our total body mass. Every cell in our body requires sufficient amounts of water for survival. It is required to regulate our body temperature and blood pressure, to transport nutrients and oxygen around the body, remove waste from our body and lubricate our muscles and joints. We lose water every day through going to the toilet, sweating and breathing.
A 1-2% drop in hydration impairs our ability to concentrate, greater than 2% leads to an impairment in the brains processing abilities and our short term memory. Being poorly hydrated on an ongoing basis will impact the digestive system and lead to constipation. Headaches are a very common sign that you could benefit from drinking more water.
We can utilise water from food as well as fluids we drink. There is some debate about how much we should drink each day and whether or not drinks like tea, coffee and soft drinks count. Aiming to have 1.5- 2l water a day is considered the goal by many. I would ideally suggest that if you can manage water or water based drinks such a fruit/herbal teas they put fewer demands on your body than caffeinated drinks, so would be preferred. However that doesn’t mean you can’t have tea or coffee, just don’t count it as part of your daily intake for hydration. Alcohol does not count.
So what to do? Build up gradually. Aim to have an extra glass of water, or water based drink, for one or two consecutive days and then maintain that for one or two days before introducing an extra drink the day after etc… Continue that pattern until you are up to between 6-8 glasses of water/herbal teas a day. Then aim to maintain that. Even if you don’t drink any water at the moment you can be up to the recommended intake within 2-3 weeks.
It takes time for your body to adjust to becoming hydrated and maintaining that state. Initially you may need to go to the loo more frequently. However once the body realises that the increased fluids are becoming a regular occurrence this will subside, so stick with it. Speaking of which your urine is a very good indicator of how well hydrated you are. Colourless or pale yellow urine indicates you are well hydrated. The darker the colour the less hydrated you are, it may also be odorous. (If you are taking certain vitamins they may cause your urine to be a darker colour, so this will not give a clear indication of hydration levels).
It’s important to adjust your fluid intake in warmer weather or when taking part in physical activity as you will lose more water from your body at a quicker rate than normal. Find what works for you. Once you are hydrated and feeling the benefits of it, you’ll wonder how you managed before :-)
Until the next time, thank you for reading and feel free to share with anyone else you think may be interested.