Hydration, hydration, hydration

Winter is coming…

Winter is almost upon us, and for most of us, the central heating is probably already on, and we start to eat those heartier meals to keep our cockles warm. However, with the change in season and routines, one thing we shouldn’t forget about is hydration!!

Changes in the season can cause us to become dehydrated, with the heating going on in our homes, cars and work places we get dried out, and the first place we see it is our skin. However, being dehydrated affects more than just this, so we need to take some time to ensure we are keeping our water levels are up, and ensure we are firing on all cylinders, as we head towards the festive season (sorry, I know it’s only November, but I had to say it!!)

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Why hydration?

It’s an old adage that you can survive without food for a couple of weeks, but you can only survive without water for 3 days, and why? Because the majority of our body is made of water – up to 60% in fact. And if we don’t keep that water level topped up, our cells don’t do what they should do, and our bodily functions begin to suffer.

Keeping hydrated is a really simple way to gain massive health benefits.  Aiming for a particular number of glasses each day (we recommend 8 x 200-250ml of water or 1.5 – 2 litres), gives us some structure and can be a really positive behaviour change, that can impact on more than just our weight loss goals.

What does drinking water do for me?

1 – Water flushes out toxins – Water can flush out toxins in our body through sweat and urine. It can also help our kidneys and reduces kidney stones by diluting salts and materials in our urine that cause stones.

2 – Temperature regulation – Water allows heat from the body to be released when sweat evaporates from the skin surface. It also has thermal properties and helps keep joints and muscles lubricated which reduces cramps and things like sprains.

3 – Digestion and constipation – Drinking sufficient water improves the metabolism and helps the body break down food more effectively. Warm water is particularly good for digestion. If the body doesn’t have enough water then it pulls it from the stools and therefore makes them harder and difficult to pass.

4 – Reduction in headaches and migraines – These are often caused by dehydration, and research in the European Journal of Neurology found that increasing the amount of water you drink can reduce the total number of hours and intensity of headaches.

5 – Healthier skin – Capillary blood flow is improved when we are hydrated and this helps with healthier skin. Water also replenishes skin tissue, moisturises skin and improves its elasticity.

6 – Relieves tiredness – When there’s less water in our body then our blood volume drops which means the heart has to work harder to pump oxygenated blood around the bloodstream. We are bound to be tired in the cold, winter months, as our bodies work harder to stay warm.  So give yourself a fighting chance and keep hydrated.

7 – Faster recovery from hangovers – Alcohol is a diuretic and makes us go to the toilet more which results in dehydration. Rehydrating helps the body as highlighted above and we recover more quickly. Making sure you are fully hydrated before you start your night out, will reduce the urge to down drinks to quench your thirst. If you also drink water throughout your night and before you go to bed, you are topping up what you have lost throughout the night, hopefully keeping the hangover at bay, the following morning.

8 – Reduction of bad breath – Water keeps our mouth moist which washes away bacteria and food particles, diluting the bacteria compounds that cause bad smells.

9 – Improves mood – Some research suggests that if we’re mildly dehydrated by even 1 or 2 percent then it can negatively affect our mood and our ability to think.

How Does Water Help Weight Loss?

There are a number of theories out there amongst the scientists, some of which are solidly backed up by the research, others which are more hypothetical.

These seem to be the most likely explanations:

Feeling Fuller – A clinical trial found that if we drink two glasses of water prior to a meal, it fills our stomach, leading to us eating less. Other test meal studies have shown that drinking water prior to and during meals increases satiety and changes in feelings of satiety are associated with a lower overall calorie intake which, in turn, leads to weight loss.

Mobilising Fat Stores – Water is essential for metabolising stored fat into energy, so much so, that the body’s metabolism could be slowed down by even fairly mild levels of dehydration. The slower your metabolism, the harder it is to lose weight. So keep that fire burning!

Drinking Less Calories – The more water you drink, the less need you have for drinks that contain calories. The fewer calories you consume, the more weight you’ll lose.

Increasing Metabolic Rate – Water drinking may provide thermogenic increases metabolic rate. A faster metabolism burns more calories.

Does it always have to be plain old water?

It doesn’t, but make good choices.  Zero calorie soft drinks or cordials are a good way to get hydrated without the additional calories. Fruit juices, smoothies and regular soft drinks are really high in sugar, and therefore calories.

And remember, caffeinated drinks such as tea, coffee, colas, or alcoholic drinks can act as a diuretic, which isn’t great if you are already dehydrated, so make sure you top up your fluids with water or zero calorie drinks as well as your usual brew.

This week!

Get those fluids up however you can. You will definitely feel the benefit of it, and think of the extra steps you get in with all the trips to the loo!

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