We talk frequently on the Onto Orthopedics blog about the essential things that your body needs to survive, thrive and be as healthy as possible. However, we have not paid much attention to the most important thing of all - water!
Water is necessary to regulate the temperature of your body, keep your joints lubricated and help to move waste through your system to be excreted. Without water the cells, tissues and organs in your body would quickly cease to function properly and would eventually shut down completely.
Why Is Water Important?
If you have a demanding job or a busy schedule, and do not have a large amount of time for self-care during the day, then you could be at risk of dehydration. There are several clear symptoms of being dehydrated, such as fatigue, headaches, confusion, a dry mouth, dark urine and being excessively thirsty.
As you age you are likely to become less aware of your own hydration levels, and for this reason it becomes all the more important that you consciously consume an ample amount of water throughout the day. Furthermore, when you are unwell you should pay close attention to how much water you are consuming. This is because certain symptoms of ill health, such as diarrhoea and vomiting, will cause you to lose water more rapidly than you usually would.
Preventing dehydration is key to staying focused, energised and generally healthy throughout the day. It is always better to actively prevent dehydration from occurring than to try to rehydrate your body once you are already experiencing one or more of the symptoms.
Professional guidance in relation to how much water is enough water tends to vary. However, if you aim to drink between six and eight glasses of water every day then you should remain perfectly hydrated. It is important to always be adequately hydrated, but this becomes all the more true when you are in a hot climate. It is also important to make more of an effort to hydrate your body when you are indulging in physical activity.
Exercise and Hydration
For those who exercise regularly, it is tempting to opt for energy drinks and sports drinks in order to replenish the body of the water that is lost through exercise. There are several drinks of this type that will be beneficial to the body after exercise, due to the fact that they replace carbohydrates and electrolytes that are lost during intense physical activity. However, you should always avoid the products that are high in calories, sugar and sodium.
It is also advisable to avoid sports drinks that contain caffeine as too much caffeine can have a range of negative effects on the body. Even when partaking in exercise, children should never be given sports drinks or energy drinks. The best choice for people of any age who are engaging in fitness activities is water!
Are You Drinking Enough?
Monitoring the colour of your urine is the easiest way to determine if you are drinking enough water. A light colour generally means that you are not experiencing any issues in this area, whereas a darker colour signifies that you should increase the amount of water that you are drinking. However, the exception to this rule is first thing in the morning when your urine will always be a darker colour than for the rest of the day.
Water is of course not the only thing that you can consume in order to hydrate your body. Other liquids and foods will also contribute to your hydration. However, the problem with relying on other liquids is that they will usually contain calories, which will add to the overall amount of calories that you consume during a day. Additionally, many of these drinks will also contain sugar which, as we know, is detrimental to your health and general well-being.
Making your own fruit and vegetable juices is a great way to hydrate yourself whilst also boosting your nutrient intake. Herbal teas are another good choice and carry additional benefits, such as their calming effect and digestive health properties.
If you aren't someone who already drinks herbal tea, then you may not know where to start with adding these delicious beverages into your diet.
Hibiscus tea is made from the tropical hibiscus flower plant. Extracts from the petals have been used for many hundreds of years for their medicinal properties. Enjoying one cup or more each day can go a long way to keeping you hydrated and is also believed to help with weight loss efforts and reduce abdominal fat.
Mint tea is a delicious choice when it comes to herbal hot drinks. In addition to keeping you hydrated, mint tea is an amazing choice for soothing the stomach and enhancing the digestive process. This is a simple tea to make from home yourself with fresh mint leaves.
A Word About Alcohol
Alcohol can quickly dehydrate the body, and also lead to a variety of other unfavourable effects within the body. First and foremost, alcohol is a diuretic, meaning that it increases urine output. Alcohol can also cause headaches, a dry mouth, fatigue, and dizziness.
Alcohol should always be consumed in moderation to avoid the dehydrating effects. Also, it is worth increasing your intake of water when you are drinking alcohol, so as to help balance out the dehydrating effect.
Water is also undoubtedly the cheapest way to keep your body hydrated! There is no need to buy a new bottle of water every time you need to take a drink. Simply purchase a drinking bottle, preferably one with a filter to remove impurities, and then fill it at a tap throughout the day.
Another top tip when it comes to staying healthy through hydration is that thirst is often mistaken for hunger. When people begin to become slightly dehydrated they may mistakenly think that they are hungry and choose to eat instead of drink. When you make an effort to stay hydrated throughout the day it is likely that you will experience lower levels of hunger. This is of course beneficial to those who are trying to lose or maintain their weight.