In this blog, I am going to get into the basics of hydration; why we want to avoid dehydration, the benefits of staying well hydrated and few simple ways to measure and maintain our own hydration levels.
Before we get into the nitty gritty, here is a fun fact: milk is actually a better rehydration drink than pure water but I will get into more of that later on.
Why Do We Even Need Water?
Did you know that 50-70% of our body weight is water? It has a few functions in the body such as dissolving and transporting substances around the body. You know, like vitamins and stuff. Water is also a major component of our blood plasma, it protects and lubricates our joints and helps with our immunity.
What Happens If I Don’t Get Enough Water?
Becoming dehydrated can lower your blood pressure and increase your heart rate. It can reduce skin blood flow and reduce our bodies cell’s volume.
This can lead to you feeling tired and light headed. It can also lower your concentration, affect your memory, reduce reaction times and cause headaches.
As you can see, dehydration is definitely something to be avoided if you want to function at your best. And I will explain just how to do this.
‘What did one ocean say to the other ocean?’ . . . ‘Nothing it just waved.’
Sorry. A wee water joke there for some light entertainment.
An Easy Way To Monitor Your Own Hydration Levels
Do you have any of the symptoms mentioned above? Lethargic? Dizzy? Do you feel thirsty? Or have dry eyes, mouth or lips? These are all signs of dehydration.
Another great way to check your hydration levels is to check the colour of your pee each time you go to the toilet. The urine colour chart below is a great way to get an accurate reading on your hydration levels. You want to be at levels 1-3 all of the time. If you are at level 8 it is time to go to hospital. No joke…
Don’t Drink Too Much Water
With all the talk of staying hydrated and the dangers of dehydration, it would be easy to think that the more water you can drink the better.
However, this is not the case and too much water can be very damaging to your body, even leading to death in some cases. Hyponatremia is the condition that arises when we consume so much water that our hormonal/renal regulation system just can’t keep up.
This causes a rapid influx of water to the brain. Symptoms include headaches, nausea, confusion, seizures and as mentioned before, death.
So How Do You Keep Yourself At That Perfect Level Of Hydration?
First, drink when you feel thirsty. This advice should keep you right most of the time.
I recommend carrying a water bottle with you so that you have access to water throughout the day.
If you have to go longer periods without water there is something called the beverage hydration index (BHI) which you will see below. This lists common drinks and how hydrating they are compared to water. If you know you will not be able to drink for a long period it can be a good idea to consume some of the more hydrating drinks such as milk. If you are feeling slightly dehydrated these beverages can also be a better option than trying to down lots of pure water.
Interestingly, as you can see from the chart, coffee has an overall hydrating effect on the body. Unless you only drink espresso’s all day, then this will have a dehydrating effect on you because of the large caffeine intake compared to water. Drinks such as lager also contain alcohol which will dehydrate you if taken in excess and as always, if you are watching your weight be aware of the calories your beverage of choice.
Remember that you get water from the food you consume as well. So, eating plenty of fruit and vegetables will also help keep you hydrated.
In summary, pay attention to your thirst levels by listening to your body. Monitor your urine colour using the chart above, react to any changes using the advice given and you will be grand.
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