The Importance of Proper Hydration

Jun 5, 2023

Approximately 60% of the human body is made up of water so adequate hydration is integral to keeping you alive. How much water you require varies from person to person; the standard amount is 8 cups a day. If you drink coffee and/or do any physical activity, you should drink more on top of the standard 11 cups. This is because both can be dehydrating – coffee is a diuretic, making you go to the bathroom frequently and release water consumed and fluids are lost in activity through sweat. The harder you work, the more you sweat and therefore need to continually replenish your body with fluids.

There are some dangers to not hydrating and therefore putting your body in a dehydrated state. These dangers can include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, weakness and confusion, not to mention a decrease in your ability to exercise. A preventative measure to dehydration is to make sure you drink water before, during and after your workouts. Try to drink 350ml of water an hour before your workout, followed by 150-350ml every 15-20 minutes during your workout. Following your activity, you should consume another 350ml.

While water is good to have before and during your workout to maintain hydration, you can also incorporate electrolyte drinks during and after your activities if necessary. There are 4 electrolytes that are important in hydration: sodium, potassium, chloride and magnesium. If you’ve ever done a long distance run and noticed dry white flakes on your face, that is the sodium being released from your body and is a sign you need to replenish your electrolytes.

There are also ways to naturally add electrolytes to your drinks. One being to drink coconut water as it contains all the electrolyte nutrients. You can also add sea salt to your water to provide sodium, or you can try our Watermelon Electrolyte recipe.

Let’s breakdown each electrolyte to better understand their importance.

Sodium

Sodium plays a crucial role in helping your cells maintain the right balance of fluid, also referred as cell homeostasis. Since sodium helps drive water into your body’s cells it’s important that you have the right balance of water and sodium, especially if you are sweating (losing water, sodium, and other electrolytes).  Everyone’s needs for sodium varies, so finding the right balance for you is key.

Did you know that sodium and chloride are also used to help your cells absorb nutrients?

Chloride

After sodium, chloride is the most abundant electrolyte in the body. Chloride has several roles that include regulation of body fluids, maintaining an acid-base balance, stimulating nerve and muscle cells, and fluid secretion (pancreatic juices and stomach acid). Similar to other electrolytes, it works with sodium and potassium.

Potassium

Sodium and potassium work together to maintain fluid balance and blood volume. When a sodium ion enters the cell a potassium ion leaves the cell and vice versa. This osmotic dance creates balance throughout the body which supports muscle function, nerves, and blood pressure to name a few.

Magnesium

More than 300 nerve impulses and enzymatic reactions require magnesium as a co-factor. While magnesium has many functions in the body, one very important role is the modulation of potassium and sodium in numerous tissues. And without magnesium, potassium and sodium ions cant cross the cell membrane. So as we can see, magnesium is a crucial piece of the puzzle.

It’s important to note that eating a diet high in processed foods, which often correlates to a diet high in salt, can lower potassium levels.  Eating a balanced, whole-food diet with occasional electrolyte supplementation (if necessary), is important to balanced electrolyte levels in the body.

Some Benefits of Being Well Hydrated

  • Helps keeps joints lubricated
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Keeps organs functioning optimally
  • Improves cognition and mood
  • Prevention of infections
  • DELIVERS NUTRIENTS TO CELLS

Tips to stay Hydrated

If you’re finding it difficult to get 8 cups in a day, we have a few tricks.

  • Fill a 2L jug with water and make marks on it for every few hours to ensure you have your goals set to finish that portion of the water by a certain time.
  • First thing in the morning, drink two cups of water (15-30 minutes before you eat or an hour after eating) – you only have 6 more to go throughout the day!
  • Add fruit to your water to spruce it up. Try lemon, watermelon (a natural electrolyte), berries, cucumber or mint.
  • Trick your mind into thinking you’re drinking something else and drink your water out of a wine glass or pint glass. This is also an easy way to measure how much water you're taking in. A 9oz wine glass equals 1.125 cups of water so you’ll need to consume at least 7 cups. A 16oz pint glass has 2 cups in it so you would need to fill it up 4 times.
  • Set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself to drink water. There are also tons of apps that help you track how much water you’ve had.

While the majority of your hydration comes from fluids, don’t forget that fruits and some vegetables contain water. In addition to drinking water, also ensure that your diet is well balanced with fruits and vegetables like strawberries, celery, watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple, oranges, cucumbers, spinach and green pepper to name a few. Happy Hydrating!

 

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