Not only is eating a healthy balanced diet important, but also fluids play a key role on our performance. Water is a key nutrient and staying hydrated is vital to our health.
Water makes up about 70% of your body to keep you functioning. We lose water through sweat, dehydration and urine and the only way to replace these stores is to drink more fluids. When we become dehydrated it can affect our health causing headaches, poor concentration, dry mouth, risk of infection and increase in body temperature.
Water prevents constipation, flushes out toxins, helps alertness and concentration, improves energy levels, aids in thermoregulation, helps transports nutrients, lubrication for joints, builds our immune system, boosts our brain function, regulates all our internal systems, prevents dry skin and most of all our cells within the human body would not survive without water.
Hydration not only means drinking plain fluids such as water but also covers water intake from food and drink.
At risk groups include children, pregnant women, older people and athletes and these groups should ensure their fluid levels are topped up. However hydration is essential for all ages.
So how much water should we be aiming for?
The amount of water you require is dependent on your body constitution, age, sex, physical activity levels, and on environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity. Food provides about 20% of your fluid intake and adults should drink around 6-8 glasses (1.5-2L) of fluid per day. As our fluid intake depends on many factors the best way is to drink regularly throughout the day to ensure you keep hydrated.
A good way to know if you are hydrated is that your urine should be pale in colour and this can be a good indicator of hydration status.
What types of fluids can I drink?
Fluids containing added sugar can cause dental problems and drinks with added cream/full fat milk can also contain extra calories. You can consume these drinks, however if consumed in excess it can cause harm to our health.
Drinking water is a good choice as it is free, contains no sugar or calories and is readily available. It’s also a good thirst quencher.
Milk is a good source of calcium and other nutrients-opt for semi skimmed milk or fortified unsweetened dairy free milk versions.
Tea or coffee is included in your fluid intake and can be consumed in moderate amounts, note it can make you produce more urine.
Herbal teas are a great alternative if you want to reduce your caffeine intake
Fruit juices and smoothies- limit to 150ml glass which counts towards one of your 5aday. Although they can provide vitamins and minerals fruit juices and smoothies include sugar hence calories and can be acidic, resulting in tooth decay if consumed in excess.
Fruit and vegetables contain water and if you make soups and stews water is added during cooking
Fizzy drinks, squashes, flavoured water and juice-based drinks can contain a lot of added sugar which adds calories and can also damage teeth if consumed frequently, so try and reduce consumption-opt for sugar free or no added sugar versions and limit these drinks to meal times.
Alcohol causes you to lose more water and become more dehydrated, it also contains calories. Try to keep within the recommended limits and remember to top up with water if you are consuming alcohol.
Tips to increase your fluid intake:
Always carry a water bottle with you and top up
Opt for herbal teas
Make your own smoothies and juices and dilute with water
Opt for no added sugar squash
Sip water throughout the day
Tune in and check whether you are thirsty
When you go to the toilet make sure your urine is pale/clear, if it is dark yellow you may need to drink more water
Read the labels, many drinks can contain added sugar
If you don’t like plain water try sparkling water
Add a slice of cucumber/lemon/mint/berries/fresh herbs to your water
‘Water plays a vital function to our health and performance and keeping a bottle of water with you can be a good way to stay hydrated and combat thirst. The more water we lose the more water we need to replace’
Water, drinks and your health – NHS
The role of tap water in public health | Water UK
Why not try some of these fluid recipes below and see my instagram for more:
1 cup almond milk, 1 scoop of protein powder, 1 tbs yoghurt, 1 tsp nut butter, 1 banana, a handful of fresh or frozen blueberries-Blitz together.
3/4 cup almond milk, 1/4 tsp cardamom powder, 1 tsp chai spice, 1 tsp honey or sugar, 1/4 tsp turmeric, 1/4 cup water-Simmer in a pan until warm.
Chai rose hot chocolate
1 cup milk, 1 tsp cacao or cocoa powder, 1/2 tsp cardamom powder, 1/4 tsp chai spice, 1/4 ginger powder, drop of rose water-Simmer in a pan until warm.