Hydration is a healthy habit that a lot of people – especially in Queensland! – tend to neglect. In our hot, humid summers, we lose a lot more water through sweat and urination than in colder climates, and hence make ourselves more prone to dehydration. When we’re dehydrated, we tend to find it more difficult to concentrate, we get tired faster, and our digestion can slow down and leave us constipated.
Why do we need water?
Our bodies use water at every level: from creating new muscle tissue and repairing injuries to thinning our blood and flushing out toxins, as well as cooling the body through sweating. If we don’t have enough water intake, then these functions are compromised. Our hearts work harder to circulate thicker blood. Our kidneys work harder to pull more toxins into less liquid. We overheat. Our bodies have more toxins circulating through them, and can’t get rid of them all. Those toxins affect our brains and all of our organs. Everything slows down and nothing works as well as it could.
How much water do we need?
The amount of water that each person needs can vary widely according to genetics and individual body makeup. Generally speaking, though, we recommend at least three litres of water a day in summer months. Be aware that if you’re habitually dehydrated, then you might be mistaking ‘I’m thirsty’ signals from your body as ‘I’m hungry’ signals – causing you to overeat.
How can I tell if I’m dehydrated?
One easy method that works for most people is to lay one hand flat on a table, then with the other hand, firmly pinch the skin over a second (middle) knuckle. If you’re well-hydrated, this skin will quickly plump back up without you moving your hand. If you’re dehydrated, the skin will stay pinched up, and only slowly smooth back down.
How can I drink 3L of water a day?
There are a number of methods that you can use to build this healthy habit in yourself:
• Drink regularly – not just when you start to realise that you’re thirsty. Having a bottle of water nearby at all times can help a lot in getting you used to drinking before you’re dehydrated.
• If your tap water has an unpleasant taste, use a water filter.
• If you find water too bland for your tastes – especially if you’re used to lots of soft drinks – then try adding lemon juice or lime juice, or slicing a strawberry into your water. You could also try soda or mineral water, as the bubbles help to create the illusion of soft drink.
• Use the same bottle all the time, and record how many times you empty it each day.
Do I need to drink more water if I’m exercising?
The short answer is: yes. For a start, your exertion is probably breaking down some of your muscle tissue. Your body needs extra water to start rebuilding that muscle tissue, stronger. Then, of course, you’ll generally sweat when you exercise. If you’re losing water, then you need to replenish it. If you find that you’re drinking more than three litres in a day, then it’s a good idea to ensure that you add some electrolytes back into your system. These electrolytes are used in flushing out the excess protein from torn muscle cells, as well as excreted in your sweat (that’s the salty tang). Use a good-quality sports drink with multiple electrolytes, glucose, and fructose – or salt your food directly after a workout with Celtic or Himalayan salt.