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The Importance of Staying Hydrated

THE IMPORTANCE OF HYDRATION: PRACTICAL TIPS FOR KEEPING HYDRATED

Good hydration is one of the most important aspects of the diet – drinking enough liquids to keep the fluid levels in the body topped up helps to ensure that all bodily functions are able to take place as normal. (British Dietetic Association)

WHY IS PROPER HYDRATION SO IMPORTANT?

In the body, water is essential for so many important processes. It contributes to blood volume which transports oxygen, glucose and nutrients to cells and allows the kidneys to process and excrete waste products. Water intake is also needed for allowing food to pass through the digestive tract, maintaining skin health and lubricating our eyes and joints to allow them to move smoothly.


Whilst keeping your environment comfortable can be done with the help of home humidifiers, even mini portable humidifiers like the Homasy Cool Mist (affiliate link, I use this one), the major influence comes from your fluid intake and food choices.

BREAKING THE FAST

Super important to hydrate when you wake up, especially if you walk or cycle to work/school. Think about it, you've likely not had a drink for about 8 hours! Whether or not you’re ready to eat as soon as you wake up you should try to drink a glass of water to start your morning. And even if you're not leaving the house to commute, sometimes a few minutes sitting with a cup of tea and a book can just set your mind up for the day.

How much should I be drinking?

Throughout the day, we should be drinking 6-8 glasses of fluid from a variety of sources, not necessarily only water. The Dietary Reference Value for fluid intake is 2.7 to 3.7 litres per day for adults which includes water intake from foods.

WHICH DRINKS COUNT TOWARDS DAILY FLUID INTAKE?

Sources of fluid intake will vary depending on age, cultural and geographical factors and of course, personal preference. Sources of hydration include:

  • Water

  • Tea and coffee

  • Milk

  • Fruit juices and squash

  • Smoothies

Regarding fruit juices, smoothies and squashes these should be consumed in moderation given the acidity and sugar content can be harmful to our teeth. Sugary and fizzy drinks can also impact our caloric intake and have been linked to the increase in childhood obesity in a number of studies.

Points to consider:

DENTAL HEALTH Whilst fruit juices and smoothies can contribute to our daily fluid intake the high sugar content and acidity can damage tooth enamel and increase the risk of dental disease and decay. These should be limited to 1 x 250ml portion a day, particularly for children.

CHILDHOOD OBESITY Sugary and fizzy drinks can impact our caloric intake and have been linked as a risk factor in rising childhood obesity rates. For this reason they should not be recommended as a main source of hydration.

CAFFEINE Be mindful of caffeine intake if you’re drinking a lot of tea and coffee, especially if you’re pregnant. Both the amount and timing of caffeine consumption is important to consider.

INCREASED REQUIREMENTS Exercising or temperatures on hot summer days can increase our requirements above the 6-8 glasses recommended normally.

EAT YOUR WATER Surprisingly we actually get an average of 20% of our water intake from food! Produce such as cucumbers, melon, strawberries and oranges can all contribute to your fluid intake. Another reason to up the fresh fruits and veggies.

WHO IS MOST AT RISK OF DEHYDRATION?

  • Athletes who exercise for intense or prolonged periods of time can lose large amounts of fluid through sweat

  • Babies and infants are sensitive to even small amounts of fluid loss due to their low body weight

  • Elderly adults may be less aware when they become dehydrated and not pick up the cues to keep drinking fluids

  • Individuals with a chronic health condition such as diabetes or alcoholism

  • Acute illnesses which involve diarrhoea and vomiting for prolonged periods can lead to fluid loss and prevent intake

Helpful resources: British Nutrition Foundation have lots of information and a handy infographic about different sources of fluids for adults and teenagers. NHS Inform shows a urine colour chart which can help you identify if you're not drinking enough.



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Our article on The Complexities of Obesity may also be of interest to you!


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