*Before reading, go grab a glass of water and sip it whilst reading this….*
Staying hydrated basically equates to drinking water. It seems so freakin’ easy yet most of us struggle to accomplish this daily task. Especially now as the weather gets cooler, it seems even harder to consumer the water quantities needed to stay hydrated. So I am going to give you some reasons why you should down water like your life depended on it…literally.
The average body consists of 65% water – most of which is held in our cells, the rest in lymph and circulatory systems. The World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests we should consume the following quantities in order for our bodies to function efficiently:
Men = 2.5lts per day
Women = 2.2lts per day
While it is easier to measure this if you drink glasses of water, this amount can include food. However The Food Standards Agency (FSA), who our down with the kids, says realistically adults should be drinking 1.2lts/6-8 glasses of water per day.
I am about to go into all the lovely details about why water is wonderful, but if you don’t have time for all that jazz let me give you these analogies, then you can be on your merry ways.
Imagine the cells of you body are like a grape when fully hydrated. Full of fluid and ready for action. And for this analogy, imagine that action is rolling. Rolling? Easy. Grapes have got this down. However, as you become dehydrated our grapes start to become raisins, all small, condensed and wrinkly. Now try rolling them. Just ain’t happening (sorry mum – I’ll put 5p in the ‘Don’t Say “ain’t Jar later). It takes a whole lot more effort to have the same result. Aaaand that is basically what is happening in all your cells so your body has to struggle to function as it should. The more dehydrated you become the harder and harder your body has to work as it takes its attention away from other functions i.e. concentration.
Now I want you to picture your herbs or plants. They can literally be laying horizontal saying their goodbyes, but as soon as you give them so water they are up, like cocky flamingos. This is exactly what happens to our energy levels when dehydrated; we become sad little plants with barely the energy to complete our basic requirements.
What does water do for a living:
Assists absorption, excretion and circulation of nutrients in and out of cells
It is the medium for chemical exchanges
Used for building and repairing body
What happens when dehydration occurs:
There is a decrease in:
Blood volume = inadequate distribution of nutrients and oxygen
Blood flow to brain = poor concentration and compromised motor fitness
Kidney function due to water retention
And if you are anything like me, then general mardy moods, shortage of patience and a ‘can’t be arsed’ attitude often ensue.
We lose around 1.5lt of water per day through urine, breathing and sweating. However, the body runs a tight ship and despite fluctuations the resulting variation is only around 1%.
Whilst this may seem minimal, dehydration still occurs.
1% - thirst
2% - discomfort and loss of appetite
3% - dry mouth
4% - 20-30% reduction in work capacity
5% - headaches and sleepiness
6% - Tingling and numbness at the extremities
7% - collapse
10% loss of body water through dehydration is LIFE THREATENING
22% loss of body water is fatal.
We can live without food for around 8 weeks but only a few days without water. By the time you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated. An indicator before this stage is the colour of your urine – it should always be pale or very pale yellow.
Also if you begin to feel fatigue, headaches, grumpy, nausea or light-headed you should start drinking immediately.
The extra energy generated through exercise is released through heat
Heat needs to be dissipated to keep core temp around 37degrees
This is done by flushing skin with water
Water evaporates from skin and takes heat with it
Roughly 1hr exercise = 1lt water loss*
*depends on intensity, conditions, individual etc
Still not convinced enough to change your habits? Ok then read this:
1. Increases Energy & Relieves Fatigue
Your brain is mostly water, so drinking it helps you think, focus, concentrate and be more alert. Water helps fuel your muscles – which are 75% water - so drinking before or during exercise will boast energy levels and keep the muscle contraction normal and prevent muscular cramps; It will help you to exercise more making you stronger and healthy.
2. Promotes Weight Loss
When there is a loss of water, the kidney cannot function at its best making it shed excess burden on the liver. The liver usually helps to burn off the fat into energy but when it has to do the excess work of the kidney, it cannot burn as much fat into energy as it should, resulting in fat deposit. So research has shown that drinking half a litre of water within 30-40 minutes can increase calorie burn by up to 30%.
3. Flushes Out Toxins
A more obvious benefit of staying hydrated is that water gets rid of waste through sweat and urination which reduces the risk of kidney stones and UTI’s (urinary tract infections).
4. Improves Skin Complexion
Keeps skin hydrated and moisturized.
Removes toxins and bacteria.
Cold water can reduce redness of the skin, sets the skin for better makeup application by closing pores to prevent them absorbing dirt and toxins. Plus it is a great mindful exercise for making you feel present!
5. Maintains Regularity
Water assists in the removal of toxins and waste from your body encouraging regular bowel movements, is crucial for a healthy gut and keep the kidney working normally.
6. Boosts Immune System
Prevents salts accumulating in the kidneys which form kidney stones.
Maintains the thickness of blood plasma avoiding cardiovascular complications
Preserves the correct shape of bones preventing arthritis.
One study found that staying hydrated may boost a particular immune response to enable your body to better fight the viruses
7. Natural Headache Remedy
Before reaching for the painkillers or googling symptoms, drink a lovely big glass of water. Dehydration is one of the most common causes of headaches and back pains.
8. Prevents Cramps & Sprains
As mentioned above, water prevents cramps. This is because hydration helps keep joints lubricated and muscles more elastic so joint pain is less likely.
9. Puts You In A Good Mood
One of the most obvious and immediate benefits of staying hydrated is that it makes you a nicer person! When the body is functioning at its best, you will look better and feel great! Water encourages the flow of nutrients and hormones around your body releasing endorphins.
Ok so hopefully now you are on board with drinking more water, but already I can hear you negotiating ‘what actually counts’…
Water is best, however tea and coffee can be included in your total. A common misconception is that cutting out caffeinated drinks helps to stay hydrated. This is only the case if they are replaced with the equivalent volume of non-caffeinated drinks. So as long as your consumption is less than 4/5 cups per day, it all counts.
Sugary drinks are not good for fluid replacement if they contain more than 6% sugar. This is because the body must use stored water to dilute the sugar content in order for the drink to be absorb into the system. Therefore they actually dehydrate the body.
So what are you waiting for, go drink some water and get a healthier, happier body with tonnes more energy.