Hydration: Why is it so important?
Water makes up between 60-75% of human body weight. And a loss of just 4% of total body water leads to dehydration. While a person could survive a month without food, they would struggle to survive 3 days without water.
As we age, our body alters to impact the control mechanisms that drive the sensation of thirst, which can result in older people being less likely to drink to replenish their fluid levels.
However, optimal hydration has many varied positive impacts aspects on health and wellbeing, some of which we explore below.
- Joint Protection
Water consumption helps cushion and protect your joints, spinal cord, and tissues. This will help you enjoy a longer period of physical activity and lessen the discomfort caused by conditions like arthritis.
- Absorption of nutrients and medication
While good hydration aids food digestion, many vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and some medications are water soluble. Without enough fluid in your body, it becomes difficult for the body to absorb the many benefits these deliver.
- Improves circulation
Water carries helpful nutrients and oxygen to your entire body. Reaching your daily water intake goal will improve your circulation and have a positive impact on your overall health.
- Cognitive function
Optimal hydration is essential to staying in better cognitive health. As mentioned already, it helps improve circulation and we know that what is good for the heart is good for the brain. Not drinking enough water can negatively impact your focus, concentration, and short-term memory.
- Improved mood
Not getting enough water can also affect your mood. Dehydration may result in fatigue and confusion, as well as anxiety.
- Skin condition
Water is essential to maintaining optimal skin moisture and delivering vital nutrients to the skin cells. It helps to replenish the skin tissue and assists in increasing its elasticity.
- Prevents constipation
A common condition that affects people of all ages resulting in difficulty in passing stools regularly. Eating fibre is not the only way to prevent this condition. It is important to maintain your water intake, so your bowel movements contain enough water. If you don’t consume enough water and fibre, you may be more likely to experience constipation.
Dehydration is the result of your body not having enough water. And because water is imperative to so many areas of health, dehydration can be very dangerous. Make sure you drink enough water to make up for what may be lost through sweat, urination, and bowel movements to avoid dehydration.
3 Key Tips to staying hydrated.
- Track your water intake
We can often over-estimate what we drink throughout the day and think we have consumed more water than we actually have. One idea would be to place a bottle or jug of water in a cool spot that contains the water you are recommended to drink over the day.
Track this each day to have an accurate picture of your consumption, in order for you to then make simple changes and deliver many improvements in how you are feeling.
- Regular and Often
When trying to achieve a level of water intake, try and consume this over the day and not simply in one go. Drinking the majority of your water at the end of your day could result in a disrupted nights sleep, so again, the key is consistency throughout your day.
- Adding Flavour
If finding water on its own difficult to drink, try mixing it with a low sugar cordial. Lemon, elderflower, lime & mint are a great way to harness the benefits of water, while making it a more refreshing and appealing option.
How much should you drink?
For more information on how much water you should be drinking for your own health, please speak to your GP.
Click here for more information and guidance on nutrition and hydration provided by the NHS website.