Hydration – why it is important for your health and mental wellbeing.
Apr 18, 2019
We are what a fellow scientist recently called, a ‘hairy bag of salty water’: 60% of the human body is water and fluid losses need to be replaced to support vital body functions, help our skin and overall wellbeing. Even slight dehydration of 2% can lead to reduced brain power and headaches.
Why should you drink more?
Your sense of thirst is unreliable. Once you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. You may have a glass of water beside your bed and drink occasionally during the night, but you will still be dehydrated in the morning. Tea and coffee count towards your fluid intake but don’t overdo it. 2-3cups per day are enough.
We lose water during the day – excretion, digestion and sweating will result in water loss but even through breathing you lose fluids which need to be replaced to create a water balance in the body.
Once you are dehydrated, several body functions will suffer and organs perform less efficiently: your blood becomes thicker which can lead to headaches, your brain is less productive, you may have difficulties to concentrate and focus, your internal body temperature can be disturbed. You can suffer from dizziness.
Water promotes cardiovascular health; your heart and all other organs need water to function properly. It supports your digestion and helps your kidneys. Water fires up your metabolism, hydrates your muscles and cells and lubricates your joints. Lots of good reasons to drink more.
If you don’t like plain water, add some fruit or fresh mint leaves or just some lemon juice to your water bottle to add some taste. You can try unsweetened fruit or herbal teas. You can even eat your water! Try water-rich foods like cucumber, tomatoes, berries, zucchini and lettuce.
Another little trick is using one of the water apps on your phone (waterlogged, hydrocoach etc) and let it remind you about having a glass of water.
How much should you drink?
There are various opinions on how much an individual's daily water intake should be, the most common being about 2ltrs per day. But bear in mind that several factors influence your individual daily needs:
- Men need more water than women, they should drink at least 2.5 ltrs
- If you exercise, add 500-800ml per hour of your workout
- Warmer weather and even wind can increase your daily needs by up to 20%
Drink evenly throughout the day. Start early in the morning to ‘flood your cells, wake up your brain and muscles.
Drinking a glass of water 30min before your main meals help your digestion. Drink another one after a meal to help your body’s ability to absorb nutrients from your food.
You may want to stop drinking two hours before you go to bed to avoid getting up at night.
With these good hydration habits, you’ll have your metabolism running, energy up, digestion in check, and skin glowing!
Carola Becker is a certified Nutritional Therapist and founder of Life is Good Nutrition.
She advises privately as a Nutrition Coach; offering consultations and designing personalised plans to help people avoid illness, lose weight and live healthier and more active lives. Her profound knowledge about the effect of diet on the body and an approach which goes far beyond willpower – in combination with a kind and empathic nature – helps building a trusting professional relationship.
Alongside her private work, she works with Corporate clients with whom she develops workplace wellbeing programmes, tracks progress and delivers workshops.