7 tips to keep hydrated and why it's so important
Water is essential for life, and maintaining appropriate hydration is essential for both physical and mental performance. The human body is largely made of water, from around 75% in babies to 60% in adults, and slightly less in the elderly. This can fluctuate due to certain hormonal conditions, hydration statuses and stages of the menstrual cycle. In terms of optimal health, it is critical to ensure that the body's total water content is maintained in order for it to function optimally.
Why do we need to drink water?
Water allows all the chemical reaction in your body to happen, allows for the removal of the metabolic by-products and environmental toxins, helps maintain your temperature and provides a medium for transporting the nutrients we need to survive.
If the water level within the blood drops, not only does kidney function suffer, but our entire body cannot function optimally.
While the kidneys will seek to re-absorb as much water as possible, at some point, you need
to drink because water is lost through various means. If water losses exceed water intake,
dehydration will ensue. Dehydration can be classified as mild, moderate or severe as diagnosed by the percentage of water that has been lost.
• Mild: Less than 5% water lost = no clinical symptoms, elevated thirst
• Moderate: 6-9% of water lost = significant thirst, sunken eyes, dry lips/mouth,
weakness, lightheadedness, low blood pressure
• Severe: Over 10% of water lost = considerable thirst, rapid heart rate, cold hands/ feet,
reduced skin firmness, low blood pressure, confusion
Mild dehydration can, however, impact your health without necessarily creating any clinical
symptoms. Low-level dehydration can lead to poor mental performance, fatigue, perceptions of hunger and some degree of irritability. A dehydrated person is less productive and probably not feeling as good as they could be.
How to know if you are dehydrated??
What This Means For You
'Drink to thirst' is always the best advice, though this is not a perfect system because people typically will ignore thirst drivers.
Mild dehydration will not cause harm, it can cause hunger pangs and lead to lethargy. You don't need to drink to a schedule or make sure you have X amount during the day, but you do need to cultivate a habit of hydrating when you get the urge to do so, rather than ignoring it.
The Eatwell Guide recommends an intake of 8 glasses of water per day which offers a
reasonable visual/practical idea of what your liquid consumption should look like.
If you really wanted to put a number on it, a reasonable calculation is to multiply your weight in kg by 28 and consume this number in millilitres per day of rest. For example, an 80kg individual might require 2240ml or roughly 2.25 litres.
7 tips to help you drink more water:
1. It's a good idea to start the day with a glass of water.
2. Add something calorie-free to your water to make it taste better if you don't enjoy it.
3. Tea, coffee, diet sodas, juices, smoothies, foods and even beer also count to your overall fluid intake. The only things that don't count are espresso shots or hard spirits, as the high concentration of alcohol and caffeine increases urination.
4. Always drink during or at least after exercise. If you're exercising first thing in the morning, make sure you are hydrated before going into the session.
5. Invest in a water filter if your tap water tastes terrible.
6. Reduce your intake of processed foods to keep your sodium intake within reasonable limits.
7. Fluid balance is affected by electrolytes, mainly potassium and sodium, so ensure to include potassium-rich foods in your diet.
In summary, maintaining a proper water balance is vital for maintaining suitable health and it
can be done very simply – drink when you're thirsty, don't over-salt food but at the same time don't avoid sodium altogether and keep an eye on your vegetable intake to make sure your potassium levels are where they should be.