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Are you drinking enough water?

Tips for staying hydrated your body will thank you for

Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health

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Many of us ignore our thirst, never really thinking about it. Or we take in massive quantities of liquid all at once. Maybe we do make an effort to drink up, but our fluid intake consists of lots of fizzy drinks and coffee. Not one of these thirst quenching routines is healthy.

Keeping well hydrated is very important. What, and how much, we drink significantly affects our body and mind.

Why is hydration important?

  • Your brain is 80% water. If you do not drink enough fluid, you will lose concentration and your memory will suffer.
  • You lose energy from being dehydrated. Without enough fluid, you will start to drag as the day goes on.
  • A lack of water can cause swelling. Strangely enough, if you don't hydrate properly, your body can swell up, trying to cling onto what little water it has. So your legs and ankles can start to feel swollen and uncomfortable.
  • Dehydration can lead to nausea and stomach pains. If you suffer with stomach troubles, it’s worth making sure that you are well hydrated on a regular basis.
  • It keeps your heart healthy. Adequate fluid intake is needed to keep your heart beating properly.
  • Water lubricates joints and muscles. Water in your body acts like oil on a door, so if you don’t drink enough fluids, your joints can get achy just like that creaking door!
In Ireland, you should drink about 1.2 litres (six to eight glasses) of fluid every day to prevent dehydration. You need more in hotter climates.

How to hydrate yourself:

  • Pure water is best. Some people are concerned about the fluoride in our water, but the jury is still out on that and the issue is hotly debated amongst scientists. If you are still worried about fluoride though, you can buy spring water in most shops and drink that instead.
  • Enjoy herbal teas. There are lots of different types of herbal teas out there. Some even have medicinal properties, such as peppermint for stomach aches and camomile for insomnia.
  • Choose water based foods if you find it hard to keep hydrated. Foods such as watermelon, tomato and soup all contain a large amount of fluid, so work well to keep you hydrated.
  • Consider milking it. Milk contains a lot of vitamins and minerals, particularly calcium. However it contains a form of sugar called lactose, so some dentists recommend keeping milk drinking to meals.
  • Make sure you are well hydrated when exercising or out in the heat. If you’re working up a sweat, you will need to increase your fluid intake.
  • Be careful if you are ill. You may need to drink more at times of sickness. Consult your doctor for advice on this.
  • Use your urine as a guide. If your urine is very dark and you hardly ever need to pee, that usually means you are dehydrated. If your urine is very clear and light coloured you are well hydrated. You will probably also know this though, as you will be visiting the bathroom a lot!
  • Pace yourself. Try not to gulp down a pint in one minute and then not drink again for hours. It’s much better to have small amounts of fluid on a regular basis, as large amounts of fluid all at once can be difficult for your body to process.
  • Continue to hydrate yourself in cold weather. You may not feel as thirsty, but you still need to drink.

Water-based foods such as this water melon

Watermelon is a rich water based food source.

Drinks to be careful with:

  • Fizzy drinks. These are okay on occasion, but they really shouldn’t be a regular part of your fluid intake.  Sure, they will ease your thirst a bit, but they’ll do damage to your teeth and overall health at the same time. Plus, they do not contain any nutrition whatsoever.
  • Juices. These are okay sometimes, but they also should be consumed in moderation, as too much juice can damage your teeth. On the plus side, juices do contain some vitamins.
  • Large amounts of coffee and tea. Coffee in particular has tons of caffeine. Caffeine seems to offer benefits in small doses (i.e. one or two cups per day), but large amounts of caffeine can mess with everything from your sleeping to your stomach. Tea contains less caffeine than coffee, but it still contains some. Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it causes a person to urinate (pee) more. It's not clear whether this causes dehydration or not, but to be safe, keep your intake moderate.
  • Alcohol. It’s a mega dehydrator. Think about how thirsty you feel when you’ve been on the sauce. If you drink a lot of alcohol regularly, you’re almost guaranteed to be dehydrated. So go easy!
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Published January 2nd, 2013
Last updated March 20th, 2017
Tags drink water health
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