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HYDRATION FOR HEALTH - a holistic approach

Updated: Nov 22, 2023



 

Most of our body weight is made up of water – just goes to show really how important it is in our day to day functioning for wellness including in transporting essential substances around our clever bodies - obviously it’s a huge component of our blood (blood is pretty essential for us to live believe it or not!), it protects our tissues and lubricates them helping us to stay loose as a goose! It’s pivotal for things like immunity, something at the forefront of our minds at the moment – particularly as the very first line of defence when any germs reach our bodies in our saliva. It is in our cells, out of our cells, in our blood vessels…everywhere!


Our bodies are super clever at regulating the levels of fluid we have around and about all the right places BUT we must help it out with adequate hydration in order to function optimally! After all, no one wants to experience the thirst, dryness, tiredness, dizziness, drop in blood pressure, decrease in brain function and headaches that come with not taking on enough! And I haven’t even started on the ways it may affect your performance when you’re training or ladies, in women's health, menopausal symptoms and the like.


We lose water in all the obvious ways; poo, wee, breath and sweat. We take it on when we drink, eat and also as a by-product of breaking down some of our food in digestion.


This is all well and good Anna, thanks, but how much water do I actually need?!

Answer, as always, is it depends! It is VERY variable between individuals based on all manner of different factors including gender, bodyweight, activity levels and intensity, environment, fitness, menstrual cycle considerations, health factors etc…



I heard that being dehydrated makes you fat, coach?! How do I manage it for weight loss?

Research in this area is fairly limited and where it is available most of it is done in animals and we won’t go into the validity of animal studies when trying to relate to humans here! That’s for another day. However, I would say that there are a couple of ways that hydration levels COULD affect any weight loss goal you may have, firstly by supressing your appetite – if you glug down two litres of water before your evening meal, likelihood is you will want to eat less because you’ll have a belly full of water!! It could also be impacted by effecting your energy levels. Remember we said dehydration can cause tiredness? This could subconsciously lead you to become less active throughout the day, causing less energy burn and in turn less weight loss…mind blowing stuff we just don’t think about hey!! And lastly, if looking strictly at weight, taking on more water will make you wee more, weeing more means a greater loss of water and that means less weight on the scales…water weight of course! Yet another illustration as to why scale weight is often an inaccurate measure of your fat-loss or body composition goals.


There is such a thing as being ‘too hydrated’ but that is generally not something you need to concern yourself with unless you have a VERY low bodyweight or are taking part in extreme endurance events.


There are many ways to monitor hydration levels in an individual but I would hazard a guess that for most of you this is a waste of time and pennies and some little practical pointers in order to increase those hydration levels would be more helpful. So here goes…


· Alcohol and caffeine are both diuretics (make you need to wee more) – the diuretic properties of these things are potentially overplayed so some alcohol and caffeinated drinks can count towards fluid intake, however, I wouldn’t recommend making up your daily litres in beer and americanos.

· Simply, always carry a water bottle – don’t make it a case of out of sight, out of mind!

· Choose palatable drinks – a bit of sugar free squash in your water, fruit to flavour a little, a tea bag, things like that do the trick!

· Have a peek at your wee – the clearer the better!

· Don’t forget foods too – plenty of fluids in things like soups, stews, fruits, veg, salad etc.

· Drink first thing in the morning – make it a habit to down a glass of water on waking.


So, let’s start right now and consider what we drink throughout the day as well as what we eat in terms of optimising our health which, as we know, directly effects our happiness!! Any questions or if you need any help or a coach to chat to, as always, you know where I am.



Peace and love. A.


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