How to Stay Hydrated Without Much Effort?
You must have heard it many times before that we should all drink more. In fact, our bodies are made up of 45-65% water, depending on age and sex so if we’re focusing on nutrition, optimum hydration is one of its major components. It has been proven that although we can go without food for nearly a week, we wouldn’t survive without water for longer than 2 days!
How do you recognise the need to drink? Feeling of thirst appears when hydration levels fall by approx. 2% – by this point you may have already been affected by mild dehydration, such as fatigue, dry mouth and difficulty concentrating. We often misread being thirsty for feeling hungry – so before you reach for a snack think of when was the last time you had something to drink (not alcohol or coffee though as they make us urinate more and so contribute to dehydration). We may also feel thirsty when the blood sugar levels are high as those are considered toxic by the body and need to be diluted fast.
What are the common signs of dehydration?
· Headaches, migraines,
· Joint pain or discomfort,
· Tiredness, lethargy, sleepiness,
· Difficulty in concentrating,
· Frequent infections – chest, urinary,
· Dry hair, brittle nails,
· Scarce, dark yellow urine,
· Increase in hay fever symptoms and allergic reactions due to increased production of histamine resulting from blood thickening.
How much should we drink, then?
Current dietary guidelines suggest we should drink a minimum of 6 glasses of fluids per day (250ml), that is 1.5 litre.
Where does that figure come from? An average adult will lose approx. 2.8 litres of water daily through urination, skin (sweat), breathing and stool. He or she would gain water from consuming food, such as fruit, vegetables and food cooked in water (soups, stews etc.) – approx. 1.3 litres. Therefore, to achieve water balance, we should drink additionally 1.5 litres.
However, the need for fluids increases depending on height, weight and body build (muscle mass holds much more water than fat tissue), with increased sweating, e.g. in high temperatures, humid climate, with intense exercise, fever and vomiting or diarrhoea.
What are the benefits of optimum hydration?
· Kidney stimulation and thus removal of toxins,
· Absorption of minerals,
· Lubrication of body tissues, organs, joints,
· Production of saliva and digestive juices,
· Body temperature control,
· Transport of body substances through blood and lymph.
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO TO STAY WELL-HYDRATED?
- First, using a measuring jug, find out how much is 250ml and decide what glasses to use at home and at work for ease of keeping track. You may find that smaller glasses are better, whereas some prefer large pint glasses.
- Keep a bottle of water (choose glass over plastic) or jug in a visible spot. Challenge yourself to finish it before you leave work. You may also draw lines with a marker for ease of tracking progress.
- Start your day with a glass of warm water and lemon juice, or two cups! Add a small amount of unheated honey if needed.
- If you’re going to keep water in the car, be sure to keep it in a glass bottle or in the boot as exposure to sunshine may result in harmful plastic compounds leaching into water.
- In spring and summer, aim for a glass of vegetable juice 3-4 times a week. You can make a double portion and keep in a sealed glass jar in the fridge for a day.
- End your day with a cup of herbal tea. Wind down with chamomile, lemon balm, sage or three cinnamon.
WHAT DRINKS ARE RECOMMENDED?
· Water – mineral water is best, as it contains a cocktail of minerals and is free from chlorine, toxic metals and chemicals that can be found it tap water. Alternatively, you can get your water tested and install a water filter if needed – such as solid carbon block or reverse osmosis or distillation systems. Get professional advice to find out which one is most suitable for your needs. Add a couple of slices of cucumber, mint, lime or lemon juice or sliced strawberries to make water more exciting,
· Herbal, rooibos & fruit teas – chamomile, peppermint, lemongrass and ginger, lemon balm, tea blends with cinnamon, liquorice and ginger etc. On top of my list as they contain plenty of phytonutrients, such as catechins, beta-sitosterol and eugenol and have been used in folk medicine for ages. My favourite brands include Pukka, Yogi Tea and Teapigs,
· Green tea – use lightly cooled water and steep for no longer than 5 minutes to achieve light and refreshing drink, otherwise it gets too bitter. But be careful, as green tea also contains caffeine-like substance, so if coffee keeps you awake at night, you may need to enjoy green tea before midday,
· Yerba mate,
· Warm water with lemon and honey,
· Nut milk or other milk alternative,
· Home-made isotonic drink.
WHAT DRINKS SHOULD BE CONSUMED IN MODERATION?
· Vegetable juices – cucumber, fennel, celery, cabbage, lemon, lime, broccoli, sprouts, tomatoes, greens, occasionally beetroot and carrots. Enjoy mainly in the spring, summer and fall,
· Diluted freshly pressed fruit juices – alongside vitamins and minerals, they also contain high amounts of fructose and should not be drunk too often.
· Small amounts of spirits, such as whiskey, vodka, brandy, port, tequila, gin and other spirits. Avoid mixers,
· Small amounts of crafted (naturally fermented) beer and cider,
· A glass of dry red or white wine,
· Coffee – black as much as possible or with small amount of milk, best to stay away from lattes and coffee syrups. Try YON Cooked Coffee instead,
· Raw cacao with water or milk alternative,
· Black tea – or with milk, this popular British drink contains theobromine which stimulates central nervous system like caffeine, as well as tannins that can be irritant to the gut lining and kidneys,
· Animal milk – it’s food rather than drink as it contains high concentrations of fat, sugar and protein. Can be troublesome for many due to inability to digest lactose sugar and may contain traces of antibiotics and hormones fed to animals.
WHAT DRINKS TO AVOID?
· Soft drinks and soda, such as Coca-Cola, lemonade, Fanta etc. due to the amount of sugar, sweeteners and additives,
· Carton juices and fruit squashes, for their poor nutritional value and amount of sugar,
· Flavoured milk, for sugar content, flavourings and colourings,
· Energy drinks, for sugar content and addition of caffeine in amounts much higher than in a cup of espresso,
· Sports drinks, as most brands contain more sugar per 100ml than coke!,
· Hot chocolate, as it’s often made with full fat milk and whipped cream or marshmallows which adds to sugar content,
· Flavoured alcoholic drinks, such as beers and ciders, cocktails and drinks with mixers.