THE ESSENTIALS OF HYDRATION
As part of your personalised and customised wellbeing experience at our wellness spa retreat in Thailand, an analysis of your body’s composition is conducted to assess your hydration levels, during your initial wellness consultation.
Kate Upton, Naturopath at Kamalaya Koh Samui answers your most frequently asked questions.
What is hydration?
A healthy human body contains about 50% water in females and 60% water in males. Our vital organs such as the heart and brain contain an even higher percentage of water at around 75-85%. Maintaining our water levels is essentially what it means to stay hydrated – making water the most nutritious substance for our body, essentially.
How much water should I drink per day?
Many people are familiar with 1.5 – 2 litres of water per day as a guideline. However, it is impossible to make a ‘one-size fits all’ recommendation. Use 2 litres as a starting point but also consider the factors which may require a higher intake, such as the climate, your body size, level of activity, how much you perspire and if you are detoxing. The more fluid your body uses or loses, the more water you need to drink.
If you consume diuretics (caffeine, alcohol, some medicines) this will increase urination which in turn requires more water intake.
How can I tell if I am dehydrated?
It is a good idea to monitor your hydration levels with self-assessment. Signs of dehydration include:
- Feeling thirsty
- A dry tongue or mouth
- Dark yellow urine (urine should be the colour of a pale straw)
- Lack of concentration and clouded thinking
- Urinating fewer than 4 times per day
What are the benefits of being hydrated?
The most important benefits of consistent good hydration are:
- Improved skin health and ‘glow’
- Clearer thinking, improved memory
- Improved hydration can help to clear stubborn weight that has been difficult to shift
- Increased energy levels
- Improved fitness performance
What time of day should I drink?
It is better to drink smaller amounts gradually throughout the day as opposed to larger amounts in one go. The only times it is best to avoid drinking are during mealtimes as it dilutes your stomach acid.
Does wine count towards my daily water intake? Coffee? Herbal tea?
Caffeine and alcohol are diuretics that increase our water requirement and are not included as part of our daily intake. Non-caffeinated herbal teas, such as chamomile, liquorice and peppermint, can count towards it.
What are electrolytes?
Electrolytes are particular minerals including potassium, calcium and sodium, that are essential for use in muscle contraction and in regulating blood pressure, safe pH balance and our levels of hydration. The best way to replenish electrolytes is with a varied and nutrient-rich diet. This can be achieved by adding lemon or lime juice to water, or a pinch of a naturally occurring salt such as Himalayan crystal salt. Coconut water is also a good source of electrolytes and a popular option here at Kamalaya. Avoid sports drinks with added sugar, sweeteners and colourings.
I drink a lot, but I still feel thirsty. Why?
You may not be drinking as much as you think, it is a good idea to track and record your water intake and assess all the factors listed above. You may have underestimated your water requirement.
Excessive thirst can be a symptom of hyperglycemia (elevated blood sugar) and hypercalcemia (elevated levels of calcium in the blood). If thirst is a persistent problem for you, it is best to discuss this with your doctor.
Does it matter if my water is hot or cold?
Generally speaking, it is preferable to drink water at room temperature or warmer. This is to conserve the heat and digestive power of the stomach. However, if you only have cold water or if you feel drawn to a cold drink it is more important to be hydrated.
Within Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the hot/cold and yin/yang balance within a person’s body can hold deeper significance for consuming hot and cold food and drinks – including that which is energetically hot (e.g. ginger) and cold (e.g. cucumber). If you have symptoms that relate to temperatures such as cold extremities or acid reflux, a TCM consultation will provide insight into your body’s specific requirements.
How can I encourage myself to drink more?
Prepare your water in advance and make conscious targets. For example, having a bottle on your desk and knowing you need to finish it before lunchtime.
Take time to think about how to make drinking water more appealing – which herbal teas do you enjoy? Do you have lemons on hand to add a slice to a glass? Consider this when writing your weekly shopping list.
Invest in beautiful vessels such as glasses, mugs, teapots and serving jugs to encourage yourself to drink more.
Kamalaya offers an abundance of hydrating treatments, therapies, and programs to help restore you to your physical essential self. Find out more here.
Written by: Kate Upton, Naturopath at Kamalaya Koh Samui
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