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Hydration Hacks

Staying hydrated is one component of healthy living we ought to consciously abide by. Research has found that thirst signals reduce as age increases. Notice that it is the signals that reduce and not necessarily that there is absence of the need for hydration itself. Thus, from an earlier age we should learn to habitually include in our daily lives ways to ensure we are well hydrated instead of waiting for the body to signal us. Nonetheless, common signs and symptoms for dehydration include dry tongue and lips, thirst, sweating, fatigue, lack of focus and dizziness. One other common way of determining one’s hydration status is dark and strong-smelling urine. A typically well hydrated person is more likely to have urine as clear as water. The pivotal role hydration plays in bodily functions is emphasised by the fact that the body is made up of an average of 60% water (two-thirds of the body). Each gender, age group and individual have distinct fluid requirements, however, the average for people living in the tropical regions is 3 litres/day. Hydration plays a critical role in several bodily functions;

  • Thermoregulation (especially in hot climatic regions)
  • Enhancing cognitive function like concentration and alertness
  • Reduced oxidative stress induced by exercise
  • Reduced occurrence of delirium in the elderly
  • Aids gastric emptying and digestion
  • Aids kidney function for filtration of waste from blood and excretion in urine
  • Mood-boosting and reduced irritability and headaches
  • Helps maintain skin integrity
  • Prevention of diseases like kidney stones
image from https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/

The body does not store water and so needs a daily supply to replace losses. Although water consumption is significantly associated with hydration status, hydration goes beyond just drinking water. Voluntary water intake, which is dependent on thirst signals, is not enough to meet daily fluid requirement goals to achieve a good hydration status. In view of this, here are some water sources in diet;

  • Classic fresh clean water
  • Increased intake of whole fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Liquid milk (fat-free)
  • Tea and home-made fruit juices
  • Vegetable soups and broths
  • Coconut water

One creative way to bring variety to drinking of plain water is to make them into cubes and add to fruit juices. One other important thing to note is that while sugar sweetened beverages may have been a good source of fluids, the adverse effect that comes with their chronic consumption far outweighs their benefits and so we should limit their intake.

Remember to grab a bottle of water before heading out each day and refill as many times as needed. Let’s work towards those hydration goals!

REFERENCES

Shaheen, N.A., Alqahtani, A.A., Assiri, H. et al. (2018). Public knowledge of dehydration and fluid intake practices: variation by participants’ characteristics. BMC Public Health 18, 1346 https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-018-6252-5

Howard G, Bartam J, Williams A, Overbo A, Fuente D, Geere JA. Domestic water quantity, service level and health, second edition. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2020. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO

Widjaja Lukito; Current Evidence in Water and Hydration Science. Ann Nutr Metab 28 December 2021; 77 (Suppl. 4): 1–6. https://doi.org/10.1159/000521769  

Popkin, B. M., D’Anci, K. E., & Rosenberg, I. H. (2010). Water, hydration, and health. Nutrition reviews68(8), 439–458. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x

Written By: Gillette Valentina Sylvia

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