Hydration is important for our overall well-being, irrespective of our daily activity levels. Water constitutes about 60-70 per cent of the human body and proper hydration means ensuring that your body maintains that level of water, as we are constantly losing water.
Water helps regulate temperature, transport nutrients and oxygen to all the millions of cells in the body organs and tissues, removes waste, and protects our joints and keeps our skin soft and supple.
Hydration, however, is more than just drinking water. The correct levels of hydration are required for everything we do, whether it’s marathon running or a marathon of responsibilities we have to complete. Even a slight drop in the water level of our body can affect our mental and physical performance. The summer heat drains the body of water through perspiration.
Dehydration can result in muscle fatigue, cramps, headaches, dizziness, nausea, lethargy and a general feeling of weakness. Thus replenishing these lost fluids is essential. Along with water, chaas, milk, coconut water, kokum water, fruit juices, vegetable juices, fresh-lime soda, milkshakes, and smoothies can be counted as your total fluid intake of the day. If you’re a green tea addict, keep in mind that not all green teas are light and hydrating. The lesser the percentage of caffeine in it (yes, it’s also found in tea bushes), the more hydrating it is. Plain water at any temperature is hydrating.
The food we eat can also add to or reduce body hydration levels. Fruits and vegetables constitute more than eighty per cent of water. Cooked preparations like soups and stews add on to the total water intake. On the other hand, high-protein foods use more water to flush out the naturally-occurring nitrogen in protein and so, one must compensate the fluid intake after consuming high-protein foods.
If you refrain from consuming more water because of its bland taste, here’s an interesting, calorie-free trick. Cut your favourite fruits and vegetables in small pieces or cubes and add them to your jug of chilled water. This will add flavour and variety to water. You can add watermelon, orange, kiwi, strawberry, cucumber, lemon or mint. They all impart a delicious taste!
Do note that the hunger and thirst centres in the brain are very close to each other. Most of us confuse the signals between hunger and thirst; hunger is always assumed first and thus another disadvantage of not drinking enough water is that you land up eating more food! Often forget to drink water? Don’t feel thirsty? Use technology to remind you; all smart phones have apps that remind and encourage you to count your glasses and fill your pool efficiently.
The best part about this zero-calorie wonder is that it’s free, readily available and you can get your fill wherever you are. Carry a bottle with you and drink on the go.
QUICK TIPS If you’re wanting to kick the habit of drinking, swap it with sparkling water as the latter is a healthy, fizzy alternative.
After each trip to the restroom, drink a glass of water to replenish your fluids.
Hydrate before exercising. Be sure to drink water before exercising to maximise your workout.
Stay hydrated at work. Even when working indoors, it’s important to keep fluids handy.
Drink water before meals. This way you’ll not only stay hydrated but you’re less likely to overeat.
When you’re spending the day camping or biking, it’s important to carry enough water to last the trip.
By Pooja Makhija: Consulting Nutritionist & Clinical Dietician