Stay hydrated all year round
Well it’s certainly felt a bit more like summer this week! Which made me think about the need for us humans to make sure we stay ‘properly’ hydrated. Don’t be mistaken, this isn’t just a topic for summer but all year round because hydration (and I mean drinking water) is crucial to our mental and physical wellbeing and ensuring our cognitive functions are optimum. These functions link to our ability to focus, concentrate, think logically and process information.
The human body is made up of about 60% of water (for an adult man, slightly less for an adult woman and more for a baby).
Among other functions water:
- regulates our internal body temperature by sweating and respiration
- The carbohydrates and proteins our bodies use as food are metabolized and transported by water in the bloodstream;
- assists in flushing waste
- forms saliva
- lubricates joints
Dehydration can lead to us experiencing symptoms we may not even associate with being properly hydrated. For example, feeling tired, having a lack of mental focus, feeling hungry or craving certain foods, experiencing frequent headaches, a weakened immune system making us susceptible to picking up colds and germs and a general lack of energy or fatigue.
The recommended daily intake varies according to age and gender and then again depending on which source you refer to and which country you live in. The general range seems to vary between 1.2 and 3 litres per day. Listen to YOUR body to find out what it needs and what works best for you.
Top tips on how to increase your hydration levels:
- Place one or two glasses of water by your bed at night and drink them on waking.
- Decide on your daily water intake and aim to have drunk half of it by lunch time (midday or 1pm) and the remainder by later afternoon (5 or 6pm), to avoid sleep disturbances.
- Set yourself daily reminders on your phone until you establish new habits.
- Establish daily rituals for example drinking one glass of water just before each meal (that could be 3 out of the way!) Or drinking a glass of water each time you feel hungry.
- Buy yourself a new water bottle, glass or stainless steel are preferable to any form of plastic and work out how many refills you need to hit your daily target & where you can refill.
- If drinking water seems like a chore ‘pimp it up’ with fresh herbs or fruit. I love using mint or rosemary! Cucumber, lemon, ginger, strawberries all work well too. You can prepare the night before or while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil in the morning.
- Increase your intake of foods that hydrate. Prep these as daily snacks. Go for watermelon, melon, cucumber, celery, citrus foods and pineapple.
- Include fresh herbal teas as part of your daily routine, use bags, my fav are organic Yogi teas which have a cute personal message on each tag or fresh ginger, lemon and mint.
- Avoid drinking caffeine and alcohol to excess. Both dehydrate the body so make sure you’re compensating with water for each beverage to support your bodily functions.
Zoe Swan is a Health and Wellness Coach certified with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition She leads the undergraduate law programmes at the University of Brighton. The Times has recently considered her resilience work with law students to be ‘ground-breaking.’