Our bodies are roughly 60% water. While we often hear recommendations that we should drink 8 glasses of water a day there is actually little science to support this specific statement.
However, we do know that keeping hydrated is crucially important for our health. Without sufficient fluids the organs will not function properly or at their best and can also influence how we think and feel.
Dehydration can have a noticeable effect on our bodies – if you lose as little as 2% of your body’s water content you can notice the difference on your physical and mental performance. If you exercise regularly you could lose around 5-6% of your water via sweat. So keep topping up with water during and after your workout to keep in optimal performance.
Another important role of keeping hydrated is to prevent constipation and to ensure optimal elimination daily. By eliminating toxins daily this has also help improve the appearance of your skin and ensure it looks glowing and radiant.
What causes Dehydration? There are a number of reasons this could happen and not just simply that you are not drinking enough through the day. For example if you suffer with diarrhoea, vomiting, you overexercise, have diabetes or take certain medications these may also contribute.
Signs of Dehydration
It may sound obvious but thirst is the body’s first indicator of dehydration. Simply keeping a bottle of water on your desk and sipping it through the day can be a great way to remind you to drink.
The colour and amount of urine that your body produces are good indicators of your hydration status. Dark yellow urine or a low urine output are signs of dehydration. Ideally your urine should be a pale straw colour.
Fatigue or energy dips can be another sign – so if you are struggling with a slump in energy try drinking a glass of water to see if you perk up.
Dehydration can cause headaches, foggy head, light headedness as well as lack of focus and concentration and cognitive ability. It can also make you feel moody and anxious
Decreased skin tone – often dehydrated skin looks older, more wrinkled and tired too. Drinking water is an effective way to improve overall appearance of the skin.
Hunger – some people mistake thirst for hunger – in fact drinking water may help you lose weight
Muscle cramps – this is particularly noticeable after exercise as you also lose electrolytes via sweat which may contribute to aches and cramps.
Remember too that if you are breast feeding your fluid consumption is greater and can be helpful for producing sufficient milk for your baby.
What to drink
Plain water is the obvious choice of course but it is not the only thing that contributes to fluid balance. Other drinks and foods can have a positive effect.
One myth is that caffeinated drinks (like coffee or tea) don’t count because caffeine is a diuretic. However, the studies show this does not really appear to be the case, because the diuretic effect of these beverages is mild. However excess caffeine can have adverse effects on blood sugar which may aggravate mood, blood sugar and even skin conditions so try to include more herbal teas, rooibos or green tea and limit regular coffee to 1-2 cups a day.
Many foods are also loaded with water. Especially water-rich fruits and vegetables (think cucumber, watermelon for example). If you like bone broth, why not drink this as a warming drink during the day.
Bone broth is excellent for the skin and connective tissue being a source of collagen which is an essential protein for glowing skin. Another excellent idea for a warming drink is to drink the warm water left over after boiling or steaming vegetables.
What if you find water boring?
There are plenty of ways of jazzing up water – carbonated is an option but why not flavour water with lemon slices or lime slices. Some people love adding cucumber slices to a jug of cold water too. You could also cut up strawberries or other berries and add them to a jug of water with plenty of ice.
Remember too that herbal teas and green tea are equally delicious cold as a drink with ice.
If you are not a fan of cold water, then drink warm or hot water which is delicious with the juice of ½ lemon added. You could also try slices of fresh ginger or mint leaves for an alternative flavour.
Your morning protein shake is also a great way to kick start the day and using coconut water is a simple way to top up on valuable electrolytes too – especially useful post exercise. Check out our wonderful recipes in our supercharged juices and smoothies books