Healthy and Hydrated

Easier ways to avoid dehydration

It is universally agreed that hydration is a vital contributor to healthy living. After all, up to 60% of the human adult body is water, with an even higher proportion in some organs; such as 73% in the brain and heart and even 83% in the lungs. Water is vital for numerous essential functions in the body; regulating body temperature, digestion, lubricating joints, flushing body waste and allowing cells to grow, reproduce and survive. None-the-less, chronic dehydration remains the status quo across the globe.

The average person in the UK drinks 1.7 litres per day, well below the 2.5 litres for men and 2 litres for women recommended by most health organisations, such as the NHS and WHO. Even a 1% drop in hydration can cause a lack of concentration, headaches, tiredness and irritability. A more significant dip can lead to longterm chronic dehydration which is linked to much more serious conditions including high blood pressure and kidney problems.

So how can you make it easier for yourself to stay hydrated and avoid the associated health issues?

Alternative drinks

We get it – water can be dull. But you don’t have to slog through two or so litres of plain water to keep optimum hydration. For starters you can add flavours to your water – fresh fruit, cucumber or sugar free squash can all make it more interesting. Sparkling water with a bit of orange juice or lime can also be a refreshing alternative to fizzy drinks. Tea and coffee can be controversial in terms of hydration. They do have a diuretic effect, but the liquid content of a cup of tea or water-based coffee, will have a net positive effect on hydration. A sugary latte would be less effective however. If you are partial to numerous hot drinks in the day you could try and use the habit as an opportunity to drink more water. While you wait for the kettle to boil or the percolator to do its thing, slug a glass of H20.

Add ice

If you do find yourself drinking fizzy drinks or indeed fruit juices and smoothies, an easy way to improve their hydrating potential is to add ice. This dilutes the drinks and increases the water content, as well as making them extra cool and refreshing.

Use a water filter

When you do drink plain water, it can really help to invest in a water filter, to make sure it tastes as good as possible and is as pure as it can be. Filtered hydration means less chlorine, organic impurities, hormones, pesticides, herbicides and micro-plastics, without losing out on key minerals such as magnesium and calcium. It is also possible to buy water bottles which have inbuilt filters allowing you to take your filtration with you, for on the go drinking. 

Eat water-rich foods

The majority of the fluid you require comes from drinks but some of the food we eat also contributes to the total daily fluid intake. 20 – 30% of our fluid intake can come from food. Smoothies, soup, vegetables and fruit are all big contributors to our fluid intake and increasing these can really help to reduce dehydration.

Drink before you’re thirsty

If you get the feeling like you’re thirsty, the chances are you are already dehydrated. Try and get into the habit of drinking water before you feel thirsty; build it into your daily routine. Try and use already established habits to prompt you to drink. For example – every time you get up to use the bathroom, you could make a habit of drinking a glass of water en route. Or build drinking into your routine whilst cooking a meal. Visual prompts are always great – try having drinks bottles made up everywhere; in the car, at your desk and in the fridge. For more on building healthy habits check out our article on the subject.

Avoid Alcohol

Although alcohol technically does contain water, it is a diuretic and causes dehydration. It causes your body to remove fluids from your blood through your renal system at a much quicker rate than other liquids. If you do drink alcohol, try to drink plenty of water beforehand and re-hydrate with water between drinks.

Use an app

There’s an app for just about everything these days and staying hydrated is no exception. Apps can calculate your exact daily requirements from your information such as weight and gender and can set regular reminders to rehydrate, which fit with your schedule. Hydro Coach, WaterMinder and Aqualert are a few popular versions worth looking at.

Invest in a Smart Water Bottle

You can go one step further than just using the app, you can now purchase smart water bottles which accurately track exactly how much water you are drinking and send that information directly to the app. With this data you can then track your daily, weekly and monthly progress. Connected water bottles will remind you when to drink using a number of different notification methods including, flashing, vibrating and making a sound.

Vitamins

If you are in the habit of taking vitamin and mineral supplements every day, why not switch to the effervescent water version which create a refreshing fruit flavoured drink from the tablets so you can rehydrate at the same time.

When to up your intake

The amount of water needed to stay hydrated can vary a lot depending on various conditions. Your height, weight and gender obviously affect how much water you require, but other more changeable factors should be taken into consideration on a day by day basis. You can lose a lot of fluid when you exercise, up to as much as a litre or two an hour, mainly through sweating and breathing. It’s important therefore to hydrate before exercise – ideally around 450ml of fluid two to four hours before and continue during and after. Your water intake also needs to increase if the weather is hot. If you are working in the heat, advice suggests a cup of water every 15-20 minutes and that drinking small amounts frequently is more affective than large amounts less frequently.

 

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