As most of you know, I live in the desert. Abu Dhabi is currently our home and it gets pretty hot out here for a large part of the year!! Heat means sweat and sweat can lead to dehydration, so Willow and I have to be careful when out and about looking for Camels lol.
I popped over to the UK last week and was ASTONISHED to find it hot!! I am certain that many more bottles of water were consumed during those few days along with a lot of other beverages!! Is it water we need to hydrate? Can we use other fluids to help us with hydration? Read on….
A definition of dehydration would be ‘the loss of body water and important ions in blood salts such as Potassium and Magnesium’. It is not ONLY sodium that is lost in sweat but many other electrolytes. Even a mild loss in water can have substantial effects on the body. We may not necessarily be clinically dehydrated but we can definitely not be fully hydrated at many points in our day. On average the human body loses 450-600ml of water simply doing everyday activities so we must keep hydrated!!
UK government guidelines are 1.2 litres of fluid intake per day. In hot weather (such as last week) the body would need a little more than that, especially if exercising in the heat. So what constitutes fluids which hydrate the body?
Many people would benefit from a gradual increase in water intake. Pure filtered water if possible. This should be achieved gradually and not all at once. The body can be likened to the earth which has been baked hard by the sun and needs a gradual increase in rain to ensure no flooding!! If water is taken throughout the day and a little excess added when the weather is hot or when we have exerted ourselves, a person can be sufficiently hydrated in order to prevent dehydration and also to help absorb certain vitamins and minerals from food intake.
Certain other fluids can help with remaining hydrated and healthy. Rooibos tea is one of those, fruit and herbal infusions another. Also coffee substitutes can be good in assisting with hydration. Fruit juices can help but they should be watered down 50/50, as the sugar levels could lead to other health issues.
Unfortunately the bad news is that most other fluids prevent our body from becoming properly hydrated and some of them are even mild diuretics which remove water and create dehydration. Although UK guidelines suggest that tea and coffee are ok to include in your 1.2 litre fluid count, there are other pieces of research which conclude that they can cause a mild diuretic effect. If drank in large amounts tea and coffee can assist in dehydrating the body. Not only that but these fluids (including green tea) contain tannins which are the cause of the mild diuretic but more worryingly, when drank with food, they make it more difficult for digestive juices to reach the intestines and can therefore inhibit absorption of vitamins and minerals.
Sports drinks have become ‘fashionable’ due to their promotion as an ideal way to prevent dehydration. This is true for athletes and persons who have exercised for a long duration and may need a substantial rebalancing of electrolytes. For the normal person wishing to stay hydrated, these drinks can have negative effects due to the content of sugar, sweeteners and other chemicals.
To remain hydrated in the heat and throughout other daily exertions Natural mineral Water is the best fluid to drink. Up to 1.5 or even 2 litres daily would maintain a healthy active person.
How to monitor hydration status
Thirst is a signal that the body needs fluid, however, an individual can lose 2% of their body weight before feeling thirsty, especially the older generation. A better way to gauge hydration levels is by looking at the color of your urine. Urine should ideally be no darker than a pale yellow. If urine is darker it may be appropriate to increase fluid intake. Certain medications and supplements can influence the colour of the urine so please check these first.
Keep hydrated and let your body do its wonderful job of being healthy!!! Oh… and enjoy the sunshine….don’t forget to UP the Vitamin D when you get the chance, safely of course!!
Nat xx (38 degrees here today…phew….off I go to get my water!!)
About Natalie Kirkland
My name is Natalie Kirkland and I am a wife, mother to little Willow and ambassador of Mini Me Yoga in the UAE. I have lived in the Sandpit which is the nickname of the fabulous Abu Dhabi, for over 5 years now and love my life in the sun!! I met the lovely Kate Bartram-Brown through a mutual friend here and have never looked back. I adore teaching the Mini Me Workshops and spreading the word of Yoga and positive thinking to the multicultural society I live in. I also teach Ashtanga Yoga, Bootcamps, and lead groups who learn about Fat loss, digestive health, Nutrition and clean eating.
Some years after completing my Sports Science degree, my passion has evolved into researching Nutrition, Health and Wellness and now I have a strong focus on this subject in relation to children as I recently had a baby!! I am currently studying to become a Naturopathic Nutritionist.
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