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  • Writer's pictureDavid Hurley

Hydration - Drink Yourself Healthy!

Hydration Drink yourself healthy!

So drinking water, who would have thought that something so simple could be so important. So lets just get a few myths out of the way first: It’s not just about drinking water, it’s about drinking the right sort of fluids, some are good, some are bad. Anything with caffeine: tea, coffee, fizzy drinks and the so called “health” drinks will all have an affect on your hydration, let’s take a look. Tea: A cup of good old tea. Doesn’t add or subtract to your hydration, because of the caffeine content you remain neutral, no loss no gain to hydration. Coffee: Coffee actually reduces your hydration. Because of the caffeine content, unless it’s decaf, a cup of coffee will actually be a deficit to your hydration. You need to drink the same volume of water as the coffee just to stay where you are. Health / Boost / Energy drinks: A huge negative for all of them. Difficult to give a rule of thumb here as the contents of them varies so much, but safe to say a huge negative both for hydration and over stressing the body with huge influxes of sugar. So that’s some of the myths dealt with, on with the good stuff.

The importance of hydration. Drinking enough water each day is crucial for many reasons: to regulate body temperature, keep joints lubricated, prevent infections, deliver nutrients to cells, and keep organs functioning properly, being well-hydrated also improves sleep quality, cognition, and mood. In addition to this almost every cell in your body contains water: water makes up 79% of your muscles, 73% of your brain, and even 31% of your bones. You wouldn’t drive your car without oil and water so why do so many people starve their bodies of vital lubrication. Good hydration prevents: muscle fatigue, muscle cramps, headaches, dizziness, urinary tract infections, constipation, muzzy head with confusion and poor thinking, musculoskeletal issues, ulcers and skin conditions in fact the list is almost endless and all patients who have followed my advice have all reported feeling much better.

What are the signs and symptoms of dehydration. Again the list is almost endless and almost the opposite of the good hydration list, but there are some specifics. Things to look out for are: Dizziness or light-headedness, constant and regular headache, tiredness on a regular basis, dry mouth, lips and eyes and passing only small amounts of urine infrequently (less than three or four times a day). Of course these symptoms can also be an indication of other disease so if you are in any doubt you should seek immediate medical advice and help. There are also two practical ways to tell if you are dehydrated. Firstly, an easy way to figure out if your body needs more water is to take the skin on your knuckles and pinch it, if the skin goes down easily, then you are hydrated. If it takes a long time to go down then you are potentially dehydrated. Secondly the colour of your pee, bit gross but really good feedback. The chart below shows the colour range but the thing to remember is that if it’s already dark, or too dark, then you are already dehydrated and need to take liquid on board pretty quickly.

How can you stay hydrated. You should drink plenty of fluids such as water, diluted squash and fruit juice to stay hydrated. The key is to drink regularly throughout the day and not just to binge drink when you notice that you’ve become dehydrated and If you're active, or if the weather is particularly hot, there's a greater risk that you will become dehydrated so stay hydrated, you should increase your fluid intake. Certain situations will require you to drink more water to maintain good hydration. These include physical activity and exercise, hot and / or humid weather, and occasions when you are vomiting or have diarrhoea. If you, your child or someone you are caring for is ill, particularly with a fever, there's a high risk of becoming dehydrated, so it's important to start replacing fluid as soon as possible. The only important thing to remember is that this is not a “one off” exercise or short term, good hydration is and should be a life long habit.

How Much Water Do You Need. If you want to prevent dehydration, it’s as easy as incorporating more water and water-rich foods into your diet. Eight glasses a day is an easy rule to remember and a good general target. But don’t discount fluids as part of food and other intake, nearly everything we consume contains fluids to a greater or lesser degree. But there is a more accurate way of determining how much water you just need instead of averages or guess work. So it’s easy to work out, just follow the calculation below: Water (in litres) to drink a day = Your Weight (in Kg) multiplied by 0.033. For example, if you are 60kg, it would look like this 60 x 0.033 = 1.98 litres a day so let’s round it up and say 2 litres. The calculation is very simple and it takes out all the mis-advice about how much you should actually drink. Also important to remember is that if you are changing habits and drinking the correct amount of fluid, at first you will pee more. That's because if you are constantly dehydrated your body is just like a dry sponge. Pour water onto a dry sponge and it just runs off, until the sponge gets wet and then it starts to absorb the water. The soft tissue in the body is the same and at first the fluids you drink will almost pass straight through, but give it a couple of weeks and the body comes back into balance.

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