To start, here’s a quick hydration Q&A for you:
- Did you know water makes up 50-75% of an average adult body?
- Did you know dehydration could lead to acute cognitive impairment and a multitude of chronic diseases?
- Did you know dehydration could decrease exercise efficiency and sporting performance?
Whether you did or did not know the above facts, the importance of regular water consumption and adequate hydration can never be overstated. Simply put; “hydration is integral to health” (Horswill & Janas, 2011). The reason that water is so important is because it is an essential element in countless physiological mechanisms, to name a few; blood viscosity, the composition of cells, chemical and metabolic reactions, the transportation on nutrients, temperature regulation and the elimination of waste.
However, as well as causing a decrease in efficiency of bodily processes, dehydration can also IMPACT various aspects of your daily life, long-term health and training performance, here’s how:
Daily Life – Whether you are at work, driving or completing any daily task, your hydration levels can affect your ability to perform effectively. Evidence states that even mild dehydration impairs a number of important aspects of cognitive function such as concentration, alertness, and short-term memory (Ritz & Berrut, 2005).
Long-Term Health – As stated water is involved in critical physiological processes and, due to this, chronic dehydration can lead to severe decreases in health and wellbeing. This could include declines in oral, intestinal, cardiovascular and urinary tract health as well as issues with connective tissue, immune function and body composition.
Training – Dehydration has the ability to negatively influence strength, power and high-intensity endurance levels (Judleson et al., 2007). Additionally inadequate hydration can lead to headaches, tiredness, reduced levels of alertness, and greater difficulty to concentrate – all of which can heavily impact training and/or sporting performance (Shirreffs, 2005).
So how can you MONITOR your hydration? Although hydration is monitored in a wide variety of clinical and scientific ways, there are some easy-to-observe factors that can help you understand and recognize your hydration status on a daily basis, they are:
- Thirst. If you feel thirsty you are probably already dehydrated, this is because thirst is a delayed physiological response to acute changes in hydration. Therefore, if you ever feel thirsty, increase your water consumption straight away.
- The colour of your urine. Typically, lighter and clearer coloured urine indicates a state of hydration whereas a bright yellow colour suggests that you may be dehydrated. (Look up a urine colour chart to see examples of the actual colours).
Now you know the impact of hydration and how to monitor it, here are some TOP TIPS to help you always stay hydrated:
- Carry a drinks bottle. Always having a bottle of water nearby will help ensure that you are continuously drinking throughout the day. This will then become habitual; your daily water consumption will dramatically increase and you are more likely to be hydrated.
- Snack on water dense foods. Snacking on foods like watermelon and grapes instead of dry fruit or salted foods can help increase your water intake, this is because those foods naturally contain a lot of water – for example watermelon is 91% water.
- Drink water before and during your meals. Drinking water prior to eating can actually decrease you hunger levels. Combined with the consumption of water during meal, this can prevent you over-eating and gaining weight as your hunger will be satisfied sooner.
So, now you’ve read (and hopefully enjoyed!) the article – GET DRINKING!! And tell your friends & family why they should too!