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Summer is finally here! As we are moving into June the temperatures are on the rise and we are preparing ourselves for what we hope will be a great summer.

But these higher temperatures also mean are body has to adapt to keep us cool, which increases the amount we sweat and therefore we are loosing more water. And this is why we need to be even more aware of drinking water and staying hydrated on a daily basis.

Key facts about water in our body

  • Our body is made of an average of 70% of water.
  • The percentage of water in children can even be up to more than 75% while elderly people might only have 55% of water in their system.
  • 90% of our blood is water.
  • We loose water not just through sweat but also through our breath, urine and feaces.

So, why so we need to drink water and stay hydrated?

Almost everyone will have heard the advice before that it is important to drink enough water and stay hydrated. Maybe it was your GP, your personal trainer or your beautician. They probably all have different reasons, but this doesn’t make it less true. Here are a few key points why water is so important:

  • Your kidney’s are a vital organ that filters your body fluids and produces your urine. A lack of water will put more stress on your kidney’s and your body will produce less urine, which can look darker. This could create a higher risk in getting urinary infections, kidney stones and in worst case scenario kidney failure.
  • If you are hydrated your body will find it more difficult to sweat and therefore in conditions with warm and hot temperatures, your body is unable to control your core temperature. Possible leading to a heat stroke and fainting.
  • Research shows that dehydration can lead to cognitive changes such as difficulty concentrating. In elderly people it has also shown links with dementia.
  • Dehydration can reduce your physical performance as your joints can become achy and your muscles will feel weaker and sometimes can even go into a cramp.
  • Dehydration can lead to changes in the amount of water in your blood. As this consists of 90% of water, a lack thereof can create headaches, low blood pressure and can increase your heart rate.

Who is at higher risk of dehydration?

The reasons why we need to drink water and stay hydrated also mean that certain groups of people are at higher risk. These include:

  • Athlete and people who are engaged in high intensity or endurance sports such as marathon running and cycling.
  • People with heart conditions, diabetes or kidney diseases.
  • Children and elderly people.

Even though above reasons are known by many of us, staying hydrated still seems to be a problem for 40% of the people and a study in the US shows that 7% doesn’t drink any water at all per day. We do retrieve water through foods, like vegetable and fruits, juices, soda’s and tea and coffee but research shows that pure water gives us the best intake of water compared with soda’s, juices and milk.

A fun fact is that originally tea and coffee where said to dehydrate you, but recent studies show that this effect is actually minimal and drinking a couple of cups of tea or coffee per day won’t dehydrate you. Of course they amount of sugars in your cup of tea or coffee can be negative for your health.

How much water do you need to stay hydrated?

There isn’t a clear guideline about how much we actually need to drink on a single day. Average is said to be 2.2 liters for women and 3 liters for men. And this will differ more depending on your sex, your activity level, the climate your in, your health condition etc. On top of that a lot of people do seem to find it difficult to drink enough water, but to help you out with this, here are 10 tips to make sure you hydrate enough:

  • Best thing to do is drink pure water, bottled or tap water is both fine. Carrying a small bottle of water with you on the day makes it easier to keep track how much you are drinking.
  • If you are struggling with plain water, add some lemon juice or some fresh fruit to your water.
  • Listen to your feeling of thirst. This is your first indicator your body needs more fluids.
  • Sometimes a thirsty feeling can be mistaken for hunger. So when you are sitting behind your desk and feeling hungry, make sure you drink a glass of water first.
  • Recent studies shows that fat free or semi-skimmed milk is the second best fluid to drink to stay hydrated and it also contains important minerals like calcium.
  • Look at the color of your urine, the darker this is, the more your need to hydrate will be.
  • Add plenty of vegetables and fruit to your daily diet. It won’t be enough on its own but it can help you stay hydrated through out the day in addition to drinking water.
  • During your exercise workout make sure you can sip water regular throughout the work-out and not just when you are very thirsty at the end.
  • Sipping coconut water or sport drinks with electrolytes can help you recover during and after your work-out to rebalance the nutrients in your blood.
  • Prepare some home made fruit smoothies, based on water and/or ice. Especially great for those hot summer days!

Now go and drink some water and stay hydrated!

Written by: Rianne Avezaat, Senior physiotherapist at Capital Physio

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