Summer’s here, which means it’s time for our annual reminder about the importance of hydration!
Hydration is vital for our health and well-being and involves consuming enough fluids to replace lost water. Dehydration, on the other hand, occurs when your body loses more fluid than you take in.
In this blog post, we take a look at the importance of hydration, its impact on your health, and how much water you should drink. We’ve also provided our top tips for happy hydration.
What is hydration?
Hydration is the process of providing your body with the appropriate amount of fluids to replace water lost through breathing, sweating and urination in order to maintain its normal functions. Proper hydration is essential for regulating body temperature, delivering nutrients to cells, removing waste products from the body, and maintaining overall health and well-being.
What is dehydration?
Dehydration occurs when the body loses more fluids than it takes in. When the normal water content of your body is reduced, it upsets the balance of minerals (salts and sugar) in your body, which affects the way it functions. Dehydration can cause a range of symptoms, from mild thirst to dizziness, fatigue, rapid heartbeat, and even confusion or unconsciousness in extreme cases.
What are the signs of dehydration?
To help you stay informed and take the necessary steps to prevent dehydration, here are some of the most common signs of dehydration.
- Feeling thirsty
- Dry mouth
- Bad breath
- Dark urine
- Muscle tiredness
More severe dehydration:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Urinary tract infection
- Confusion or unconsciousness in extreme cases
12 ways that hydration affects your health
Keeping well hydrated is crucial for maintaining good health and well-being, as it can significantly impact various aspects of your body.
Here are 12 ways in which hydration can affect your health:
1. Regulates body temperature
Water is essential to regulate the temperature of your body, which becomes difficult if you are dehydrated, as you may feel overheated. Water is used to create sweat, so poor hydration prevents this, which can lead to heat exhaustion.
2. Helps with digestion and the removal of waste
Water is important to keep your digestive system in good working order as it helps to extract necessary nutrients from food and averts constipation by helping to move food through your digestive tract. If you are under hydrated, it can impact your health as toxins can build up in your system.
3. Protects your joints and tissues
We always encourage patients with joint pain to drink plenty of water, because hydration is really important for joint and tissue health. Water helps cushion and lubricate joints, facilitating smooth movements of tendons, ligaments, and bones by providing a small amount of moisture to the joints.
4. Supports muscle function
It’s important to keep hydrated while exercising, to prevent DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) from getting worse. Dehydration can also cause:
- Muscle cramps along with the build-up of lactic acid
- Muscle weakness because of loss of electrolytes; and
- Muscle fatigue – dehydration restricts the proper circulation of blood and impacts the delivery of oxygen and essential nutrients to the brain.
5. Replenishes intervertebral discs
Another chiropractic-related reason to keep hydrated is that water is used to replenish the soft rubbery discs that sit between vertebrae. Failing to drink enough can cause your spinal discs to become flat and more prone to conditions such as degenerative disc disease.
6. Assists with kidney function
When your body is not adequately hydrated, your kidneys have to make more effort to filter waste and toxins from your bloodstream, which can ultimately result in kidney problems.
7. Hormones and neurotransmitters
Water is necessary for the brain to produce essential components such as hormones and neurotransmitters, as well as generate electrical signals needed for proper brain function.
8. Improves cell health
Cells rely on the presence of water, so when the body becomes dehydrated, it can hinder the healing process and result in unhealthy skin.
9. Provides eye lubrication
Even your eyes can feel the effects of dehydration. The tear ducts and meibomian glands in the eye require water to produce lubricants, and insufficient hydration can increase the risk of developing dry eye syndrome.
10. Reduces depression and anxiety
It’s not just physical health that can be affected by dehydration, as various studies have shown that drinking enough water is important for maintaining good mental health.
In a study of over 3,000 adults in 2018, those who drank less water had a higher risk of anxiety and depression than those who drank more. Researchers in a 2014 study found that people who usually consumed a lot of water felt more tense and less calm and content when they drank less.
11. Keeps chronic conditions at bay
A National Institutes of Health study suggests that adults who maintain proper hydration tend to have better health, develop fewer chronic conditions such as heart and lung disease, and have longer lifespans compared to those who do not consume sufficient fluids.
12. Boosts athletic performance
Finally, hydration is vital if you want to perform at your best. Regulating your fluid intake can prevent cramping, fatigue and poor performance that can occur from dehydration.
How much water should I drink?
The recommended daily water intake is at least 8 cups (64 ounces) per day. However, your individual needs may vary depending on factors like your age, gender, activity level, culture and climate.
In warmer weather or during exercise, you may need to increase your fluid intake to compensate for the extra fluid lost through sweating. And if you’re unwell with a cold, flu, or stomach upset, it’s really important to drink lots of water to aid recovery.
What is the best way to hydrate myself?
Water is our first choice for a healthy lifestyle, but there are other drinks that can help to hydrate, including fruit juice, coconut water, herbal tea and even milk. Just be mindful that some of these contain sugar, so it’s best to limit these options.
Which liquids cause dehydration?
Although many liquids can help with hydration, some may lead to dehydration if consumed excessively or under certain circumstances.
- Alcohol is a diuretic, promoting the production of urine which can result in water loss.
- Caffeine is another diuretic, so large amounts of tea, coffee and certain soft drinks can also cause dehydration.
- The high content of sugar in sports and energy drinks can lead to increased urine output and water loss if you drink a lot of them.
It’s not all bad news if you’re partial to these drinks as they won’t be problematic if you consume them moderately and balance them with adequate amounts of water.
10 top tips for staying hydrated
1. Get into the habit of drinking water, perhaps first thing in the morning or every mealtime.
2. Add lemon, mint, or herbs to your water to make drinking more enjoyable.
3. Be careful with caffeine!
4. Treat yourself to a high-quality water bottle and always take it with you.
5. Filtered water without chlorine tastes and smells more pleasant.
6. Eat water-rich foods such as watermelon, strawberries, cucumber, and celery.
7. Your urine is a great hydration indicator – it should be clear or light yellow.
8. Set reminders to drink water throughout the day.
9. Record your water intake in a diary or with a water tracking app.
10. Think of all the money you’ll save by choosing water instead of a fancy coffee!
Our clinics in Yeovil, Crewkerne, and Beaminster provide a range of services catering to different needs, including chiropractic and massage therapies. Our main goal is to improve your quality of life through maintaining good health and well-being.
For more advice on keeping hydrated or the services we offer, feel free to contact us. Get in touch to find out more about how we can help.