Mzansi Top 100 leader, Dr Anastacia Tomson offers her expert opinion on the importance of hydration:
Why is it important to stay hydrated?
Water is a vital cellular component that is necessary for many metabolic functions. Water is found as a component of blood, inside cellular membranes, and as part of all body fluids, such as bile, lymph, and urine.
It’s necessary for excretion of waste products, transport of nutrients, and maintaining normal bodily functions. Without adequate hydration, these processes cannot continue, and serious sickness and death might follow.
What are the warning signs of dehydration?
Thirst is an important indicator of dehydration, though it’s important to focus on hydrating well even before you feel thirsty.
As dehydration progresses, urine becomes darker (more concentrated), the heartbeat becomes faster, dizziness ensues, and fatigue or fainting may occur.
HERE ARE 16 WAYS TO STAY HYDRATED THIS SEASON:
1. Eat vegetables and fruit
Of your daily water intake, 20 percent of that comes from the food you eat, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, spinach and bell peppers all have water concentration levels of 90% and above.
Coffee doesn’t cause fluid loss. In fact, your morning cup of Joe is made up of 98% water, which is enough to keep you hydrated for the day.
REMEMBER: Don’t drink too much coffee, as caffeine causes headaches and jitters, so two cups for the day should do the trick.
3. Avoid excess amounts of alcohol
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The more alcohol you drink, the more dehydrated your body will become because it decreases the antidiuretic hormone that allows the body to absorb water.
4. Add oatmeal to your breakfast
When you make oatmeal, the water and milk are absorbed by the oats keeping you hydrated.
5. Chow down on Chia seeds
An ancient superfood that sustained the Aztec and Mayan people for generations; chia seeds are hydrating nutrient powerhouses.
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These tiny seeds are hydrophilic, meaning that they absorb water (up to 12 times their weight!).
When you consume water-logged chia seeds before exercise or a day in the sun, they will slowly release that water as your body digests them, keeping your system hydrated.
6. Taking probiotics
Beneficial bacteria help you absorb nutrients and electrolytes from food and drinks (which makes for more efficient hydration), but a strong microbiome can keep away any harmful microbes that can cause temporary intestinal issues, leading to dehydration.
7. Drink coconut water
This popular drink has a high electrolyte content and potassium, which plays a crucial role in regulating body fluids.
Slurp a light vegetable soup as a snack in the mid-morning or afternoon to boost your water intake and energy levels.
Use high water content vegetables such as celery, cucumber, iceberg lettuce, tomato and zucchini. Or, blend everything up and take it in a thermos as something tasty and hydrating to sip on all day.
9. Monitor your urine
Monitor fluid loss by checking the colour of your urine. It should be pale yellow and not dark yellow, too smelly or cloudy.
10. Drink before you become thirsty
Need to quench your thirst?
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Chances are you’re already dehydrated.
Your best defence against dehydration?
Drinking water consistently, so you never reach the point of thirst.
11. Track your daily water intake
Many people don’t know how much water they should drink daily, or even how much water they’re typically downing.
If you’re sipping on a 16-ounce bottle, drink eight of them each day, and even more if you’re exercising heavily.
12. Watching your weight
Weigh yourself before and after a workout. If the scale shows a loss, replenish it with water by drinking 20 to 24 ounces of water for every pound lost.
If you’ve lost three percent or more of your body weight, chances are you’re severely dehydrated.
13. Drink beverages high in electrolytes
Working out for more than an hour?
Consider sipping a sports drink, or nibbling on some pretzels or a banana to restore lost electrolytes which are minerals in the blood that regulate bodily systems.
Your body loses important electrolytes like sodium, potassium and chloride when you sweat.
A good sports drink can help you replenish them.
14. Eat frozen treats
Ice cream and ice popsicles are refreshing and hydrating.
Calories from full-fat ice cream and sugar popsicles can add up, so look for slow-churned or low-fat ice cream, frozen yoghurt, and popsicles made with sugar substitutes.
15. Drinking water before and after you exercise
While drinking too much water directly before the activity may result in nausea or “slushiness” within the stomach, sipping on bottled water before, during, and after exercising will go very far toward keeping you healthy and hydrated.
16. Infuse your water with fruits
Infuse your water with fresh fruit and vegetables. The fruit and vegetables will store the water and release it when the body needs it most.