We all know about how important it is to stay hydrated. However I want to debunk some old myths about hydration. Gone are the days where we are told to drink eight to ten glasses of water a day. There are substitutes for those who yawn at the very thought of water!
Firstly, let’s not underestimate the power of the simple water molecule. It makes up just over 60% of our body volume and every living cell in our body depends on water for life. Water is vital for healthy skin, hair, nails and internally controlling all our major organs and systems. The truth is it’s really easy to stay hydrated as long as you understand the water content of different foods and beverages.
Fruits are very high in water content. Watermelon is actually 90% water and other melons like cantaloupe and honeydew are also high .Watery vegetables like celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, capsicum, and lettuce add to your daily intake. You can also add to your water intake by with oatmeal or oat bran made with liquid, soups, and smoothies. Besides drinking pure water, mineral water, almond milk and coconut water are great choices to rehydrate. Soft drinks certainly lack nutritional value and are high in sugar, but they can still be hydrating. As a better choice, opt for adding pure lemon juice, muddled mint and natural sugar alternative (stevia or Natvia sachets) to mineral water for a healthy lemonade!
And yes, coffee and tea also count. The old myth that these are dehydrating has now been debunked. The diuretic effect of coffee and tea does not offset the hydration benefits. But…alcohol is a significant dehydrator. If you are drinking socially always aim for a 1:1 ration of alcohol to water.
How much water do we need during exercise?
The Institute of Sport suggests drinking about 1-1.5 litres of water per hour for adults and adolescents during exercise. Pre and post hydration is also important if exercise is intense. The general rule of thumb is, if you are sweating you must replace the fluid as soon as possible.
How can you tell if you are dehydrated?
Checking your urine. If you’re urinating every two to four hours, it is light in colour and significant volume, then hydration is satisfactory. However, if you do not urinate for six to eight hours during the day then you are dehydrated. Signs of dehydration include loose sallow looking skin, headache, leg-cramping and light-headedness.
The recommended liquid intake per day for men and women at a normal activity level is:
Women: 2.1 litres/day
Men: 2.6 litres/day
If you think you may not be consuming enough water during the day, keep a food and liquid dairy for a week and run your own tally. The best advice is to find a way to stay hydrated that suits your own personal tastes and lifestyle.