The majority of your body is made up of water and keeping well hydrated is absolutely vital to keep your body in good working order and to make sure you look and feel your best.
As you lose water every day through sweating, urine and breathing you need to make sure you are replacing what you lose. As the warmer months arrive, you are likely to lose more fluid each day through sweat than you do during the cooler times, so – that means it is more important than ever to focus on what you are drinking at this time of year!
Here are 6 things you can do to keep in top of your hydration:
- When it comes to staying well hydrated, water is best. In the summer – flavour water with fresh mint leafs, sliced cucumber, ginger, fresh lemon or lime juice. You can also try sparkling water, herbal teas if you want something warm or make your own chilled iced teas (most of the ones you buy will have lots of added sugar). Having a glass of low fat milk is a great way to get some hydration and a boost of protein and calcium too. Tea and coffee do count towards your fluid intake, but ideally limit them to a couple of cups a day and have most of your fluid as water.
- There is no exact amount or guidelines for how much to drink – it really does vary from person to person and is influenced by the environment where you work (air con or outside), the temperature of your environment and how much you normally sweat. Aiming for 2-3 litres a day as a starting point is a good idea, then drink the amount you need to be passing lots of pale coloured urine (without going to the loo every 5 minutes – that might mean you are overdoing it).
- Get into a drinking routine that works for you and that you can keep up. You could set yourself a goal of having a glass of water when you first wake up then at 11am, 1pm, 3pm, 6pm and 9pm – or if the exact times don’t work for you – then go for something else. Another thing you can try is to aim to fill a 750ml water bottle up 3-4 times throughout the day and drink it all.
- Aim for you urine to be pale straw coloured throughout the day, it is likely to be more concentrated first thing in the morning, but after that – once you have started drinking – your goal is pale pee!
- Beware of high sugar drinks – look at the back of the bottles before you buy them, you might be surprised – especially when you look at some fruit drinks, flavoured waters and tonic water. 4g of sugar is equal to 1 tsp so you can do a quick check next time you pick up a drink bottle. If you are having fruit juice, dilute it ½ and ½ with chilled still or sparkling water. Coconut water can be a nice refreshing drink for a change too.
- As the festive season is here, the wine and beer starts flowing. To make sure you stay well hydrated and avoid the dehydrating effects of alcohol on your body – have several glasses of water before you have any alcohol and a glass of still or sparkling water alongside your alcoholic drinks. You can also mix wine with soda to make a spritzer if you like too. There are low alcohol beers and wines on the market now, so you can always look at those as an option to keep your total alcohol intake in check.
By Claire Turnbull. NZ Registered Nutritionist, AUT / Millennium Institute. For more information about Claire, visit her website: www.claireturnbull.co.nz