Staying well hydrated

By   Eucalyptus VC


Drinking enough is important for your physical performance as well as your mental function, read on for more information on staying well hydrated.

Water is the ideal drink for keeping your body well hydrated. Drinking enough is important for your physical performance as well as your mental function – did you know that dehydration actually reduces the volume of your brain? It can result in difficulty concentrating, headaches, irritability and sleepiness. Good hydration is associated with a number of physiological functions within our bodies and there’s also evidence to show a number of health benefits.

Water’s magic qualities include:

  • Reducing blood pressure
  • Improving bowel function
  • It’s needed for digesting, absorbing, and transporting nutrients around the body
  • Eliminating waste products
  • Keeping your body temperature within the ideal range
  • Looking after your oral health – especially in the many communities of Australia and New Zealand where fluoride is added – fluoride strengthens your tooth enamel and can reduce the likelihood of cavities.
  • There’s also some research to show that water may contribute to the diversity of bacteria in the gut microbiome – so that’s the types and the numbers of healthy bacteria within your gut – the source of drinking water and the amount of sodium, sulphate and chloride it contains, as well as whether you are a low water drinker, or a high water drinker are all factors that make a difference.
  • Water is also important for healthy physiological function of the skin and prevent acne

Preventing dehydration is critical to our survival and the balance of water in the body is regulated by sensitive and precise mechanisms that control both water intake and losses – if we lose as little as 1% of our body’s water, this will usually be corrected within 24 hours. We are made up of between 50 and 80% water and our needs for intake vary widely according to environmental conditions, physical activity and individual metabolism. It is recommended that we aim to drink between 8-10 cups of water each day, so that’s 2-2.5 litres each day. Our bodies requirement is actually a little higher than this, but foods contribute around 700-800mL each day, so keeping up your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables will make an important contribution here.

Fluids other than water can impact your body’s level of hydration in varied ways. Alcoholic drinks for instance act as diuretics, that is they increase the production of urine – caffeine can have the same effect, although caffeine rarely impacts your state of hydration. On the other hand, fruit juices, vegetable juices and some sugar-sweetened drinks can help to re-hydrate your body more efficiently because of the presence of electrolytes and carbohydrates. But these drinks also contribute to extra kilojoules which can lead to weight gain. Replacing kilojoule-containing beverages with plain water reduces energy intake, it can increase the body’s use of fat, and can be a useful strategy for managing your weight. Increased feelings of satiety (or fullness) have been shown to be connected to adequate fluid intake, meaning you might be less likely to reach for a snack when you don’t really need it. This can reduce your overall kilojoule intake and therefore positively affect your weight.

Listening to your thirst is really important, but here’s a fact you might not have known – your thirst mechanism is actually blunted with age – so get into the habit of planning ahead to stay hydrated. Aiming for 2 litres or more each day may seem like a lot, but some planning ahead will help. Start your day with a large glass of water, then fill a drink bottle in the morning, and again after lunch to have your daily hydration needs covered.

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