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Don't Forget to Hydrate

13 Apr 2020

The third foundation habit for lockdown resilience is drinking water

A well hydrated body performs all functions more quickly and efficiently. It supports the workings of every internal organ so it has a role to play in general immunity. Being well hydrated improves the way your brain works, both in terms of cognitive and emotional function. It’s a good discipline for the whole family as we commence term two of home schooling, a challenge that requires all functions at full capacity. Drinking water can also slow down your snacking, always a hazard when you’re stuck at home.

Most people understand the benefits of drinking water and would like to drink more. The challenge often faced is that initial hurdle, extra bathroom trips. When you increase your water intake it can take time for your body to adapt. In the context of our previous normal this would have been inconvenient. But new normal provides all-day bathroom access. It’s a great opportunity to acclimatize your body to being better hydrated and learn to love all the benefits.

A general rule of thumb for water is 8 glasses (2 litres) per day, with another glass for every coffee or alcoholic drink. Remember that the water you drink while you are exercising doesn't count because its function is to immediately rehydrate the body. Your exact water requirement will depend on your weight, temperature and humidity of the environment and whether your diet is rich in water-dense or salt-dense foods. When you drink enough water your urine will usually be pale yellow.

As the weather gets cooler it’s easy to fall out of the habit of drinking cold water, now is a good time to consider hot water with lemon or decaffeinated herbal tea. Aim to increase your intake by around a third a week, so if you’re currently on around 5 glasses a day try for 7 in your first week and 9 in your second. Some people have a well developed thirst mechanism but for most people getting enough water is a discipline that requires a system. Without a good plan it’s very easy to get to 4pm and realise you’ve only had three glasses. Start early in the day and make a schedule. For example, if you’re aiming for seven glasses try for one with breakfast, two before 10am, one before 1pm, two before 4pm, one before 6pm. Knowing you have to drink a glass or two of water before you next eat is a good reminder and motivator!

Lockdown takes away many opportunities but it does bring a few as well – the chance to upgrade your body’s hydration status is one of them. It’s a healthy habit that’s free, easy and has the potential to significantly improve the way your body works. Try it, you won’t drown!

Author

Claire Bellingham

Claire Bellingham is Life Pharmacy Takapuna's very own health columnist.  Claire has been a personal trainer at Les Mills Takapuna for 15 years and writes a monthly health column in Channel Magazine.

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