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Drink up!

It has been a particularly hot weekend, therefore it seems a good time to talk about the importance of staying hydrated and what the best thing to drink is.

Water is essential for life. We need to drink water each day to replace the water that is lost through urination, sweat and breathing. Here are some important jobs that water does in the body:

  • Many nutrients dissolve in water so they can be more easily absorbed from the gut.

  • Many metabolic reactions need water to occur.

  • Water is a component of blood and is therefore important for transporting hormones and nutrients round the body.

  • Every single cell in the body is bathed in a water-based fluid.

  • Water is needed for filtering the blood and eliminating toxins from the body (think wee!).

  • Water transports heat and can help the body to maintain its temperature (think sweat!).

If we don’t drink enough water, we may become dehydrated. A common recommendation is to drink 6-8 glasses of water daily. This a great place to start, but individual needs vary. For example, people who eat more soups and salads may be consuming more water from their food than people who eat dryer foods like bread and meat. People who exercise more, and therefore sweat more, have a greater need for water. Those that live in hotter climates also have a greater water requirement.

A good way to tell if you are drinking enough water is to check the colour of your urine. It should be pale yellow. It’s best not to wait until you’re thirsty – schedule water breaks throughout the day.

Some drinks, such as coffee and alcohol, are diuretics – they draw water out of the cells. Therefore, if you drink lots of coffee (even though it contains water), you may become dehydrated, so you might like to drink an additional glass of water. The best thing to drink is water. Many of my clients tell me that water is boring, so I recommend making the water more interesting by adding lemon slices, mint leaves, apple, raspberries or cucumber. Keep a jug in the fridge or on your desk and see if you can finish it during the day.

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