10 Things You Didn’t Know About Hydration

While it’s nothing new to be told you should drink eight glasses of water a day, a recent study showed nearly half of all Britons still don’t know how much they should be drinking to optimally fuel their bodies. We caught up with nutritionist Rebecca Stevens to find out more – from the surprising ways you should hydrate to knowing how much is too much, here’s what she said…

You Might Need More Than You Think

“The average adult needs around two litres of water a day to stay optimally hydrated. However, this depends on your activity levels and the temperature outside, both of which can affect how much you sweat, meaning you may need to drink more. If you are pregnant or post-natal, you may need additional fluids, too. If you are breastfeeding, aim for an additional 700ml water per day as breast milk is 87% water. As a general rule, try to keep your water bottle topped up throughout the day and get into the habit of carrying one with you at all times.”

Look At Your Wee

“Your wee should be pale to light yellow – clear or transparent wee is a sign you are over-hydrated. On the other hand, if you are going to the loo less than three times per day and have a dry mouth and eyes, you are definitely dehydrated.”

It’s Not All About Drinks

“Food can contribute to 20% of your total fluid intake. Foods that have the highest water content include cucumber (96% water), melon (91% water), courgettes (95%), spinach (93%), apples (85%) as well as tomatoes and celery. Soups, stews, casseroles and other dairy products like yoghurt and cottage cheese are also very hydrating.”

Caffeine Is Okay In Moderation

“Despite misconceptions, tea and coffee do count towards your daily quota. However, if you drink more than five coffees, this can have a negative effect on hydration levels as caffeine is a diuretic, meaning you’ll need to wee more frequently, and therefore lose additional fluid.”

Over-Hydration Is A Thing

“It is possible to over-consume fluids – the medical term is hyponatremia and is caused by excess water diluting electrolytes in your blood, particularly sodium. Cells within the body respond to this decrease in sodium by shifting fluids from the outside to the inside of the cells, which causes them to swell. If this happens in your brain it can be dangerous and life-threatening. However, hyponatremia is rare – you’d need to drink in excess of five litres of fluid in a short space of time for this to happen.”

Your Mood Is Altered

“Forget feeling ‘hangry’ – studies show hydration plays a key role in your mood. Hydration forms part of the synovial fluid that lubricates and cushions joints and makes up a considerable amount of our blood (83%) and brain (90%). Research has suggested even mild dehydration can trigger headaches, fatigue, low mood and problems with concentration and focus.”

Hydration Affects Your Sleep

“There is some research to suggest dehydration can negatively impact our mood, which in turn can take its toll on the quality of your sleep. One study found that when people with a low water intake drank more, they felt calmer, which in turn improved their sleep and reduced feelings of sleepiness during the day. A separate study found people who slept for six hours a night had significantly more concentrated urine and were more dehydrated compared to those who regularly slept for eight hours.”

It’s Not All About Water

“There is evidence to suggest milk is more hydrating than water as it contains fat, protein and some naturally-occurring sugar (lactose) that helps to slow the emptying of fluid from the stomach, which will keep you hydrated over a longer period of time. However, water is still considered the healthiest option for hydration as it doesn’t contain any added sugar or energy.”

Tap Water Is Fine

“While concern has been raised over microplastics in our drinking water, the level found in tap water is considered safe for human consumption. In fact, you’re better off drinking tap water than water from a plastic bottle, with studies suggesting bottled water contains 22 more microplastic particles than tap water. Moreover, microplastics are found in 93% of bottled water brands.”

Little and Often

“In general, drinking little and often throughout the day is the best approach. Remember your body can only process one litre of fluid per hour – anything in excess of this figure will put unnecessary strain on the kidneys. Public Health England says women should drink around 1.6 litres of fluid per day, equivalent to around eight 200ml glasses.”

For more information or to book an appointment with Rebecca, visit NourishAndNurtureNutrition.com

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