We all know that the human body is approximately 70% water and that it is important to keep hydrated. What you may not know is that every single bodily process, every single living cell, relies on water to function properly; from transporting nutrients to regulating body temperature to supporting the structure of cells and tissues to preserving cardiovascular function.
Not only is it required to stay alive, but also to maintain a quality to that life. Inadequate hydration can cause fatigue, dizziness, constipation and a dangerous drop in blood pressure. But even more so, it can impact our mood, muddle our thinking and decrease our memory. A study at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University showed that even a loss of 1 to 2% of body water would be enough to impair cognitive water.
Though we are advised to drink 8 glasses per day as a guideline, we should be wary that water requirements will vary from person to person and will depend on lifestyle and environment. So, if you are very active and live in a hot climate, you may need more than someone who is older, more sedentary and tends to spend time indoors.
Top tips to stay hydrated:
Listen to your body: if you are thirsty, it means that your body needs hydration – not a sugary or fizzy “sports” drink that will have a dehydrating effect in the long run. Also, often our body confuses water with hunger so see if your hunger pang is satisfied with a large glass of water before reaching for a snack. Finally, dry lips and/ or headaches are both signs of dehydration, so once again, reach for a glass of water before applying lip balm or popping a pill!
Make it easy: I like to drink out of the same bottle of water that I carry around with me all day so I can keep track of how much I have had. I also keep glass bottles of water on my bedside, in my car, in my study – basically everywhere, so I always have a convenient bottle to hand.
Supercharge your water: adding herbs, fruit or berries can not only taste good but can up the benefits of your water too! Lemon in warm water is good for digestion, ginger is anti-inflammatory, rosemary water is full of antioxidants, grapefruit infused water is good for weight loss, okra water can help with diabetes, strawberry water just tastes pretty darn good, and so on… Adopt the new LA trend of dropping crystals (such as rose quartz) to further “charge” the water or go back to basics and keep your water in copper for its positive charge (our grandmothers were right about this one!) Herbal teas, smoothies and vegetable juices are also a great way to hydrate (but avoid caffeine which is dehydrating!)
Hidden hydration: there are a number of very hydrating foods in case you cant bring yourself to drink all the hydration you need. In their book “Quench”, Dr Dana Cohen, integrative medicine specialist from New York and Gina Bria, an anthropologist who established the not-for-profit Hydration Foundation, suggest a number of foods that are particularly hydrating including: cucumber, grapes, lettuce, tomatoes, spinach, carrots, watermelon, strawberries, pineapple, blueberries and chia seeds which absorb up to 30 times their weight in water. The authors argue that naturally packaged plant water can hydrate more efficiently than plain drinking water as it is packed with soluble nutrients and gradually supplies the body with water.
In our New Year Series, Health & Wellness Coach Annabel Treon helps us cultivate good habits in the month of January to set a healthy, happy foundation for the year ahead.