Healthy Hydration: Water and Your Health

water and health

Water and health go hand in hand.  60% of your body weight is water

But have you ever wondered what all that water actually does?
Some of waters most important functions in your body include:

  • Moistens tissues including your mouth, eyes, nasal passages, digestive tract and membranes in your urinary and reproductive tract. Enables minerals and other nutrients to dissolve and be transported around your body
  • Carries red and white blood cells around your blood vessels taking oxygen and immune cells to all parts of your body
  • Prevents constipation
  • Regulates your body temperature
  • Lubricates all of your joints including the vertebrae in your spine
  • Assists your liver, gallbladder and kidneys in removing waste products from your body
  • Protects your organs and tissues
  • Helps conduct electrical impulses along nerves to cells

How Much Do You need?

Unless you’re running a marathon or working outdoors in the middle of summer you don’t need to drink litres upon litres of water each day. All you’ll be doing is making your kidney’s work harder than they should.

Your diet is a hidden source of water. Fruits and vegetables can be up to 70% water and your body also produces water as it burns fat. Processed foods contain very little water.

To work out how much water you need to drink each day multiply your weight in kilograms by 0.033. For example if you weigh 60 kgs you need to consume 1.98 litres of water each day in order to stay sufficiently hydrated. Add one extra litre for each hour of intensive exercise.

Another good sign that you’re sufficiently hydrated is the colour of your urine. It should be clear by early afternoon. It’s normal to have more concentrated and darker urine first thing in the morning but if your urine is bright yellow and strong smelling at 4pm in the afternoon, you need to increase your water intake.

Buy a filter or be a filter

It’s an unfortunate fact that our tap water doesn’t just provide you with pure H2O. It also comes with a good dose of heavy metals (including copper, mercury and lead), chlorine (bleach), bacteria and parasites, dioxins and pesticides. But is bottled water the answer? No. Besides the huge environment impact and the extra costs associated with bottled water (money that could be spent on healthier food), bottled water is not necessarily healthier due to concerns about chemicals from the plastic bottles leaching out into the water. These chemicals are able to mimick oestrogen in your body whether you’re a Mr or a Mrs.

A simple reverse osmosis water filter attached to your kitchen tap is the most economical solution to taking the nasties out of your water. It also makes it taste and smell so much nicer.

I’m Bored with Water, What Else Can I Drink?

Your body was designed to drink water and nothing else. Herb teas and moderate amounts of tea or a cup of coffee are acceptable but shouldn’t replace water.

Avoid softdrinks, they not only leach minerals from your teeth and bones but several studies have shown that softdrink consumption is posivielty associated with weight gain. In other words if you drink softdrink chances are high you’ll gain fat and the more you drink the more weight you’ll gain.

Also avoid fruit juices and carrot juice. Heavily marketed as healthy, they’re far from it. They contain a heavy sugar load and all the fibre has been removed so there’s nothing to slow the sugar down. Fruit juices, including the freshly squeezed ones will give you a great big sugar hit followed swiftly by the inevitable crash. NEVER replace a meal with fruit juice. If you’re trying to wean yourself or your children off fruit juice, start diluting it with water and treating it like a cordial. Slowly increase the amount of water and decrease the amount of juice.

Healthy Hydration Action Plan

  • Use the colour of your urine to assess how hydrated you are. After lunch it should be almost as clear as water.
  • Add a small pinch of sea or Himylayan crystal salt to each litre of filtered water. This will help to replace some of the minerals filtered out and also improve the hydration of your cells. Your water should not taste salty but the ‘mouth feel’ will change making the water actually taste ‘wetter’.
  • Avoid water in plastic bottles – it’s bad for the environment and bad for you with chemicals from the plastic leaching out into your water.
  • If you don’t like the idea of carrying water about in a glass bottle, invest in a drink bottle made from a safe plastic such as polypropulene which doesn’t contain the toxic chemical Bisphenol-A (available from Rebel Sport for about $10).
  • Increase your water intake after exercise.
  • Keep a jug of water and a glass on your desk and on the kitchen bench to remind you to drink
  • Water out, water in – Have a big glass of water after you pee, this is a good prompt to remind you to drink during the day when you’re busy.
  • Drink your water at room temperature, not icy cold from the fridge. Think of your digestive tract like a crock pot simmering away and breaking food down. A large glass of icy cold water being poured into your stomach is not good for digestion.

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