We all know that it’s important to keep hydrated during the summer months. Even with the unpredictable English summer we still sweat more than we would in the depths of winter and this extra loss of fluid needs to be replaced.
Water makes up at least two-thirds of the human body and plays a large part in many key functions such as lubricating your joints and eyes, keeping your skin healthy by eliminating toxins and supporting healthy digestion. Apart from the obvious side effects such as a dry mouth, dizziness and headaches you may be surprised to know that dehydration can also cause dry skin, constipation and even muscle cramps.
The general advice is to aim to drink between 6-8 glasses of water a day, but there are more intelligent ways to approach hydration, read on if you want to find out how:
1. Don’t be afraid of adding the occasional pinch of pink Himalayan or rock salt to your water.
It always amazes me how often we ignore the importance of minerals when we talk about keeping hydrated. The fluid in our body contains a delicate balance of minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium which are responsible for lots of different chemical reactions and ultimately for keeping us alive. Water helps to transport these minerals around the body and it is actually changes in mineral concentration that causes all the side effects of dehydration rather than the lack of water itself. This is why on particularly hot days it is advisable to add a pinch of good quality salt to your water and sip on it throughout the day. Note: it is really important to use good quality salt rather than table salt as only the better quality salts contain the full range of minerals needed to hydrate the body (table salt only contains an altered form of sodium, which, without the other minerals to balance it out can have a detrimental effect on our health).
2. Coconut water can be a great alternative to water but be wary of its sugar content.
Coconut water is very popular in health food circles just now and it is often touted as a tastier (and more expensive!) alternative to water. Whilst it is true that the mineral content of coconut water is very similar to that of the body we should also be mindful of the fact that coconut water is also high in sugar (a small carton contains over two heaped teaspoons - eek!) We should therefore sip on this in moderation and drink it more as an occasional treat rather than make it a summer staple.
3. Increase your vegetable intake!
Yes, I know I probably write this in every single one of my blogs but that’s because vegetables are nutritional powerhouses and are amazingly good for us on many levels. Many vegetables have a very high water content (not to mention a high mineral content, hint hint). Green cabbage, for example contains over 98% water and spinach comes in a close second at 96% Unsurprisingly, salad vegetables such as lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, celery and radishes are also high. So what are you waiting for, swap your stodgy sandwich for a crunchy salad at lunchtime and increase your water content no end. Vegetables also make a great addition to juices and smoothies and hot days are the perfect excuse for experimenting with that juicer or blender that you’ve had gathering dust in the cupboard since Christmas!!
4. Fruit also contains lots of water but be mindful of its sugar content
Like vegetables, fruit is also high in water content but it is important to remember that its sugar content is much higher than that of vegetables, so it’s probably best to aim for a maximum of 2-3 portions of fruit a day. Fruit with a high water content include: watermelons, strawberries (both 92%), peaches (88%) and pineapples (87%). Add one or two carefully chosen portions of fruit to your daily juice or smoothie to create some refreshing summer flavours (frozen berries are one of my favourite additions as they always give smoothies a great texture and taste).
5. Make your water exciting!
One of the most common complaints I get from clients when I advise them to drink more water is that they find the taste of water boring. This doesn’t have to be the case. For example, infusing a jug of water in the morning with any combination of lemons, limes, mint, cucumber, strawberries, berries, rosemary, thyme and even basil can lend all sorts of interesting and uplifting flavours to your water which will keep your taste buds busy all day. Another nifty trick is to place small pieces of fruit such as berries or grapes into an ice tray and top with water for a great cooling snack (this has the added bonus of both slowing down your fruit consumption and providing your body with a few extra minerals).
So, don’t forget, a hydrated body is a happy body! Why not try one of the tips listed above over the next week and see how it makes you feel?
Giulietta Durante our Uxbridge nutritionist is happy to answer any questions you might have about improving your hydration. She also offers personalised health programmes to help you achieve your health goals. Please email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on: 07983 704 882.