Water is one of the few absolute essentials for our bodies. As the summer months have painfully reminded us, and with autumn still ahead, water plays a crucial role in regulating body temperature. In addition to carrying oxygen and nutrients to the cells, another indispensable task of water is to dissolve food’s minerals and nutrients so they can be absorbed and used. This is necessary for the proper functioning of the entire body because these minerals and nutrients are needed to affect nerve and muscle operations, heart rate and blood pressure, and are essential to maintaining a healthy metabolism.
The majority of the body is made up of water, in fact about 60% to 75% of the body’s weight is H2O. Most of it is found within the cells of the body but it is also contained in the blood vessels (intravascular space) and all the space between cells.
Water’s job in your body
• Regulates body temperature
• Helps kidneys and liver remove waste from the bloodstream
• Protects organs and tissues
• Carries nutrients and oxygen to cells
• Lubricates joints
However, we must also realise that our bodies are constantly losing water. We don’t just lose water when we sweat or visit the toilet, but with every breath water is leaving the body. It is a necessity to make sure we maintain the proper amount of water in the body or start to suffer from the effect of dehydration.
Signs of dehydration
• Extreme thirst
• Headaches and lightheadedness
• Bad breath and dry mouth
• Fatigue and lethargy
• Muscle and joint pain / cramps
• Elevated heart rate
The best and most straightforward way to stay hydrated is, of course, to drink lots of water. But we can also add plenty of water by eating foods as well. Certain fruits and veggies contain a lot of water. Eat them whole or cut them up into salads to enjoy their hydrating benefits. By diffusing different types of fruit in water you can create your own healthy and tasty “vitamin water”.
Watermelon (92% water), apples (84%), pears (84%), pineapples (87%) and various berries (strawberries 92% or blueberries 85%) are delicious ways to “eat” your water. Citrus fruits such as grapefruit, oranges and lemons not only help hydrate you but are also great sources of Vitamin C.
While drinking a glass of water may be the quickest, and cheapest, method for getting hydrated quickly, other drinks aren’t really up for the job. Although juices and sodas contain lots of water and thus may help keep you hydrated, they contain excessive amounts of sugar and other additives that will act against you in the long run.
What about diuretics such as caffeine and alcohol?
It is a well-known fact that caffeine does indeed have diuretic qualities, prompting more frequent visits to the restroom. Alcohol has similar diuretic effects; the headache after a night of excessive drinking is generally due to dehydration. The higher the alcohol content of a drink, the less it contributes to your hydration. Be particularly careful of drinking alcohol when it is hot and you are sweating. You may be losing more water than you realise.
Did you know that dehydration sets in hours before you experience the sensation of thirst?
This means that by the time you start to feel thirsty your body has already been dehydrated for a while, so make sure you drink enough liquids to compensate.
Other tips to help you stay hydrated:
• Have a glass of water beside your bed and drink it as soon as you wake up.
• Keep a bottle of water at your desk at work and drink it throughout your day.
• Take water with you on the go, especially during the warmer months.
• With each cup of coffee, drink one glass of water.
• Bonus benefit: hydrating keeps your skin healthy and youthful looking!
FirstMed hopes you have had a happy and healthy summer. Whenever the temperature is high, remember to keep yourself properly hydrated. Grab a cool glass of water or eat a cucumber, and just make sure you have enough to keep feeling great.
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