The Importance of Hydration for Optimal Health

The Importance of Hydration for Optimal Health
‘Drink more water’ is almost a buzz answer for every ailment. Bad skin? Drink more water. Headache? Drink more water. Although we all know that we should drink enough water, it’s almost such a basic solution to our problems that we shrug it off. On average, the body of an adult human being contains 60% water, most of it contained within cells. An even higher percentage of major organs such as the brain, heart and lungs are composed of water. Some of this water is lost throughout the day in urine, sweat, respiration and even through the skin. Maintaining a healthy water balance by getting enough from the fluids that we drink and foods (especially fruits) is essential for optimal functioning of the human body, from transporting nutrients to controlling blood pressure and body temperature.
 
‘Don’t forget to drink some water and get some sunlight because you’re basically a house plant with more complicated emotions.’
 
What is it important for?
Brain Function
Approximately 75-85% of the brain is water, so it comes as no surprise that adequate hydration has been correlated with improved focus and clarity. Studies have shown that as little as 1% dehydration can affect cognitive function, with prolonged dehydration risking shrinkage of cells in the brain. Before you order an espresso to your desk, or pick one up in the car, try drinking a good amount of water and see how much better you feel!
Exercise Performance
From hours before your training even begins, you should be taking precautions to ensure that your body is hydrated. It can take time for those fluids to be absorbed into the body, so don't leave it until you’re in the gym. Going into a session dehydrated will cause core temperature to rise faster and the heart will have to work harder - all making training feel more difficult than it would from the get go! While training, have a large water container at hand to encourage you to drink throughout. Even if working out in cold temperatures, more water is lost than at rest through increased respiration. Don’t slack!

Chronically starving the kidneys of water can lead to kidney stones or could even lead to kidney failure

Kidney Function
The kidneys filter the blood so that waste can be excreted in urine. Without enough water, these waste products are not flushed out and accumulate, impairing the kidneys. Chronically starving the kidneys of water can lead to kidney stones or could even lead to kidney failure in extreme cases. If you are concerned, your GP can have bloods done including the BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen) test, to assess how well the kidneys are working.
Sodium Balance/Bloating
Have you ever consumed salty food or a meal out and been especially bloated after? As a rule, the higher your sodium intake, the more water you will need to consume. If you eat at a restaurant, even if going for a low calorie ‘healthy’ option, you are likely to see scale weight go up the next day. This is not fat gain but water retention from the heavily seasoned meal. Drink extra water to flush it out and you should see that you quickly return to normal. While it isn’t necessary to track sodium for most individuals, choose higher quality salts for your food (such as pink Himalayan) and try to get in a good balance of all major electrolytes from foods. ViDrate is a great source, in addition to foods such as kiwi which have a high potassium content.
Digestive Health and Weight Loss
Trouble going to the bathroom can be a result of dehydration, as water is needed to move food waste through the digestive system. Combine drinking enough water with eating plenty of fibre for a well-functioning bowel. Water and fibre can also play a role in weight management as they increase the feeling of ‘fullness’ in your stomach. Foods with a higher water content, such a cucumber and watermelon, are extremely low in calories for their weight, making them great ‘high volume’ foods when dieting. Combine with fibrous veggies and carbs which will digest slower than sugary treats to increase the satiety effect.
 
Electrolytes
Electrolytes are charged particles (ions) that, when added to water, make the beverage more hydrating than the h2o alone. These include: sodium, magnesium, potassium and calcium. The most obvious sign that your body might be short of electrolytes is muscle cramping, which might occur during exercise. Even so, cramping usually means that the body’s supply has reached extreme lows- we all need them to carry out normal bodily functions. Luckily, most of us don’t need to worry about micromanaging our levels. By consuming a balanced, healthy diet, keeping hydrated and choosing high quality salts to season food over processed pre-packed foods packed with added cheap salts, you shouldn’t have any reason to worry.
If looking for a convenient source but looking to control calories, sugar-loaded isotonic sports drinks might not be the best option. ViDrate provides electrolytes with just 14 calories per serving and is naturally sweet!
Am I drinking enough?
It’s easy to feel like, unless you are obviously losing water through sweat, it doesn’t need to be replaced. This is completely wrong! There are several guidelines for water intake, based on age and bodyweight, but as a rule, your body will let you know when you are dehydrated.
Be aware of:
   Urine colour (darker than usual means you need more water)
•   Dry mouth
   Headaches
   Brain fog
   Muscle cramping (you will also need electrolytes with your water)
 
Children, pregnant women and elderly people have the greatest fluid requirements. Sweating and being in a warm, humid environment also increase immediate need for water - be prepared!
 
Can I drink too much?
Technically, yes, but this is very difficult and not a concern for most people. If your stomach feels bloated and is ‘sloshing’, slow down the pace.
 

Top tips

Before making a coffee in the morning, drink at least one glass of water.
Always keep a bottle of water within reaching distance in the car, especially for long distances.
Have a refillable bottle (see our range) handy in your bag, to save money and waste.
Use a low-calorie flavouring, such as ViDrate, to encourage you to drink more.
 

 

 

Article written by Savannah Westerby

Instagram: @savannahwesterby


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