Just drink more water already!
If I had to choose just one piece of health advice, that every single person needs to hear, it would be to drink enough water!
"I have 5 coffees a day...does that count?" No. No it doesn't. I'll get to why in a moment.
"I drink cordial - it's sugar free though! Does that count?"...also a Nope from me.
"What about tea?" That depends...read on.
Adult Women in Australian Summer should be aiming to drink at least 3 Litres of water each day - and that is assuming you don't sweat more than an average person would.
Adult Males in Australian Summer need 3.5 - 4 Litres per day, again, assuming you aren't doing anything too strenuous to increase your sweating, which depletes your body of fluids and electrolytes so must be replaced ASAP!
(In Winter, Ladies aim for 2L, and Men 2.5L and you will be sweet)
Children are more difficult to figure out, based on their age, weight, how physically active they are and all that jazz. I believe the rule of thumb with children is to have a bottle of water or glass with them as much as possible. Kids tend to be more intuitive and listen to their bodies more than adults, because they don't know not to, so they will drink when they are thirsty. That said, once you are thirsty, you are already beginning to be dehydrated so a child that seems to have an insatiable thirst probably needs more than just water to replace what they need.
Fruit is a great source of water - some more than others, and while you can't really quantify water content accurately and therefore shouldn't call eating fruit the same as drinking water, the nutrients, vitamins, minerals and natural sugars you are getting from fruit are so beneficial almost across the board, that I always recommend fruit as part of the daily diet, especially for children.
Fruits with the highest water content include melons, pears, citrus, strawberries and peaches - although Rhubarb ranks the highest on this list!
Vegetables, as a group average, have a higher water content than fruit - especially things like celery, fennel, leafy veg like lettuce and cabbage, and radishes - but we all know how hard it is to get kids - and some adults to be fair - to eat their veggies.
If you make sure you have 5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit each day, you will be well on your way, not only to staying well hydrated, but to keeping yourself healthy too.
Fruit and Vegetable juices are an excellent way to bump up your water intake without really thinking about it - I like to add a little water, or coconut water to my juices and smoothies which also helps. Coconut water is 94% water, but is also packed with minerals, vitamins and possibly even anti-oxidants. Some people don't like the taste of it on its own, so adding to a juice or smoothie is perfect, because you don't even taste it!
Juicer? Try: 2 sticks celery, 2 carrots, 1 green apple (deseeded), small piece of ginger. Yum.
Mixing vegetables with fruit makes the juice taste fruity but you get the benefits of the veggies too.
So teas then. Herbal and natural fruit teas, excellent - you can count them, you can enjoy the benefits of the herbs themselves, while hydrating. Herbal teas are an excellent source of water. Green and Black teas have been shown to have anti-oxidant properties and many benefits, especially anti-inflammatory properties according to this study. They can be included in your daily fluid intake, however too much of anything is not good for you. So one to two cups daily is a safe place to be.
This study from 2014 found that drinking coffee in moderation (1-2 cups daily) would not cause dehydration, however they were unable to conclude that the water within the coffee could be included in daily fluid intake requirements, as there are other mineral balances that are directly affected by the consumption of coffee. For this reason, I prefer not to include Coffee in your fluid intake, in fact I generally recommend to my clients, that for every cup of coffee you have, make sure you have a cup of water too.
About those cordials. Sugary cordials are just piling in the unnecessary dietary sugars, colourings and chemical nasties that our body does not need. Sugar free ones are just as bad, if not worse, because natural sugar is replaced with a lab synthesised version. You just don't need that junk in your body. Don't do it! Need a fruity drink? Put actual fruit, in water. It may not be as strong tasting, but it will be fruity and is so much better for you - and bonus, you can eat the fruit later too!
If you find it hard to get in all this water throughout the day, lets break it down into glasses.
Lets say an average glass is 250ml - so Ladies you need 8 and Men you need 10 on a day where the temperatures are in the 20*c's.
- Upon waking, have a glass of water. With breakfast, another glass of water.
- Making a juice or smoothie? Throw in some coconut water or water too.
- Mid morning, have a glass of water. Have a glass of water with lunch (that's 4 already) assuming you haven't felt the need to hydrate in between.
- Throughout the afternoon have another two glasses of water, and then while you are preparing your evening meal, another glass with a squeeze of fresh lemon or a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar will help your digestive system prepare for the incoming food. A glass of water with your meal will also help your digestion, as stomach juices - mostly Hydrochloric Acid (HCL) is almost totally water, so drinking water increases your stomach acid which speeds up digestion. Thats 8.
- Another glass 45 minutes before bed so hopefully you can go to the toilet before you sleep and you won't need to get up in the night, and thats the day done.
Better still, get a water bottle that is 500ml or 1 litre so you know exactly how much you have had, by keeping track of how many times you refill throughout the day.
Did you know that dehydration is one of the main causes of colds and flus in the winter? When it is cooler, we sweat less, and feel the need to drink less. Dehydrated tissues reduce the fluids in the lymphatic system, resulting in a less functional immune system, allowing more germs to break through and take hold.
If you are sick, hydrate! You will get better much faster!
In summary, just drink water, ok?! Your joints will improve, your skin will improve, your health with improve, those headaches might stop, YOU WILL FEEL BETTER than you did when you could barely count how much water you had each day, because there was so little.
Caroline is a Naturopath, in South East, Queensland. To book a consultation Click here
or call 0433 280 621