MOST OF US know that we should be drinking more: about 8 glasses a day (or 1.2 litres) to be precise (according to the NHS), yet a recent survey showed that nearly half the population of England still don’t know the optimum amount required by the body.
Here are some pointers towards effectively hydrating your body, some of which may surprise you!
- Drinking little and often throughout the day will help your body to process fluids more efficiently. Your kidneys will come under strain if you demand the body to process more than one litre of fluid per hour.
- Long term over-consumption of fluids can lead to ‘hyponatremia’; the electrolytes in your blood, such as sodium and potassium, becomes diluted. The cells respond to this reduction in levels by shifting fluid from outside to within the cells so that they swell. This can have serious effects on the brain and organs.
- The amount that you need to drink will heavily depend on activity levels and ambient temperature – the more you sweat, the more fluids you need.
- There is plenty of water in many of the foods we eat, especially fruit and some vegetables. For example; cucumbers, melons and courgettes contain over 90% water. Smoothies, soups, milk and yoghurt are also good ‘hydraters’.
- The best way to gauge your hydration levels is to look at your pee! It should be pale or light yellow. If it is too clear, you are over-hydrated; too yellow, you are dehydrated. If you have a dry mouth or eyes, and haven’t been for a pee at least 3 times a day, you are definitely dehydrated.
- Obviously, plain water is the most effective fluid to provide your hydration, and tap water is as good as anything out of a bottle. There has been a lot of concern about the levels of microplastics in tap water but studies have shown that the level is even higher in some bottled water and present in 93% of brands.
- However, tea and coffee also count towards your daily quota, as well as any soft drink, but caffeine is a diuretic (which causes increased passing of urine) so too much caffeine and not enough plain water will dehydrate you.
- Our bodies are full of fluid with the blood containing 83% water and the brain 90%. The fluid in joints and muscles allows for free and cushioned movement of the joints. If you get fatigue, headaches, low mood, lack focus or concentration you may be mildly dehydrated, which can trigger these types of reactions.
- In the same way, hydration is thought to have an impact on your sleep. There is evidence that the low mood caused by dehydration directly affects sleep quality, while more fluids correlated to a calmer mood, and to higher energy levels throughout the day.