One might think that remembering to do something as fundamental to our survival as drinking water would be a cinch. Yet, maintaining adequate hydration levels is a task that many find challenging.
The importance of water consumption for our physical and cognitive wellbeing cannot be overstated. Various factors contribute to a deficiency in fluid intake; a busy work schedule, juggling parenting responsibilities, or simply a lapse in memory.
If you find yourself among those grappling with keeping hydration levels optimal, take heart! We're here to share some practical advice and actionable strategies to help you improve your water intake.
Let me delve into some simple methods to kickstart your hydration journey.
Establish reminders on a schedule
Sometimes, all it takes is a gentle push to keep our hydration levels in check. If you tend to overlook drinking water amid daily routines, setting hourly reminders could be a game-changer. This way, you're ensuring consistent water intake throughout the day, aligned with your body's needs.
Invest in an appealing water bottle
Believe it or not, the appeal of your water container can significantly impact your drinking habits. A brightly coloured or uniquely designed water bottle, possibly featuring handy additions like an infuser, can make staying hydrated much more enticing.
A visually appealing bottle, especially one that is better for the environment than single-use plastics, is more likely to be kept close and taken everywhere with you. Just remember to choose a BPA-free option.
Integrate hydration with other activities
A smart strategy to ensure you're consuming enough water is to sync your drinking schedule with other habitual activities. This could be having a glass of water as soon as you wake up, before meals, or even before important work calls.
You can also adapt this strategy to your lifestyle; for instance, if you're a new parent, try matching your baby's feeding times with a glass of water for yourself. The possibilities are limitless, so be creative and make it enjoyable!
Create a fun twist
Let's face it, water can be dull to some. But this doesn't mean it can't be spruced up! If the taste of plain water doesn't appeal to you, experiment by adding fruits or electrolytes for a refreshing twist. Something as simple as a couple of ice cubes can make a world of difference.
Monitor your hydration levels
Keeping tabs on your hydration status serves a dual purpose: it gives you a real-time snapshot of your water intake and also provides a sense of accomplishment seeing your progress.
Given our digital age, numerous apps and online resources can help you log your water intake, set daily hydration goals, and ensure you're on track. These tools not only keep you accountable but also make the process of forming a new habit a lot easier.
Embarking on a journey to form a new habit can be daunting, but it need not be complicated. These simple yet effective steps are a great starting point towards a healthier hydration habit. You'll be pleasantly surprised to see the positive effects on your wellbeing in no time!
Sport and Hydration
When exercising and in life in general, it is important for healthy longevity to stay properly hydrated. The average-sized adult stomach can absorb around 200ml of water every 15 to 20 minutes – that’s only about seven to eight mouthfuls. While not consuming enough water will increase your heart rate, if you overdrink (by which we mean you drink faster than your body can absorb) then your stomach will fill up, which will affect your breathing capacity.
Because of the limit on how much water we can absorb, once dehydrated, it can take a lot of time to rehydrate. Therefore, as you can’t hydrate as fast as you can dehydrate, the answer is to always stay hydrated.
Depending on the type of exercise and the temperature etc, it’s possible to lose up to 1.5 litres of water per hour. This means when doing long endurance events you need to be drinking pretty much constantly, but in small doses. If you don’t then your body temperature will increase, causing your heart rate to increase, resulting in a need to decrease your speed.
When we talk about hydration, we should include electrolytes. You need the right balance of electrolytes as they help regulate both the contraction and relaxation of muscles – and seeing as the heart is one big muscle, this becomes crucial to get right. Salt/sodium is one of the most important electrolytes in our body. Pretty much the only place in our body where we hold salt is in our blood (both blood and sweat taste salty because they are high in sodium). Because blood serum salt levels need to remain at a certain level, if you sweat a lot during exercise and don’t replace your salt, blood volumes will shrink. If this happens too much, you will feel sluggish and eventually pass out. And remember, if you live a low-carbohydrate life (as we suggest), you may in turn be consuming too little salt, so it’s important to ensure you are consuming enough, especially if you are living an active lifestyle.
According to Peter Stark in Last Breath, “a man who weighs 70 kg will contain a little over 40 L of water. If it does nothing at all but sit and breathe, he will lose about 1.5 litre of water per day through a combination of sweat, respiration, and urination. But if he exerts himself, that rate of loss can shoot up to 1.5 litres per hour”.