If you can’t stand the heat, stay indoors! That’s the advice as record-breaking temperatures soar across the country. Our health writer also brings 7 cool ways to stay hydrated.
Flush Out Toxins
Our bodies need water to function – anything from one and a half to three litres a day, depending on body size and the amount of moisture you lose through perspiration. Water is essential for keeping our delicate tissues (such as in the mouth, eyes and nose) moist. It lubricates joints, carries nutrients around the body and regulates body temperature and digestion. It also helps flush out toxins and waste products. You should drink eight to 10 glasses of water throughout the day.
Hint Of Fruit
Some people don’t like the taste of plain water. So, try chilling a bottle of tap water with a slice of lemon, lime or cucumber. The hint of fruit can make it more palatable. Fizzy water is another option. If you’re a fan of fruit juice, it’s best to dilute it with water to protect your teeth. This will help reduce the hit of sugar into your blood stream, while boosting your fluid intake at the same time.
The liquid in tea and coffee does help rehydrate you, but it’s not as effective as water or herbal tea. Caffeinated drinks can have a diuretic effect, which increases the excretion of water from your body. Enjoy a full range of herb or fruit teas, and switch to decaffeinated coffee occasionally.
Cucumbers, lettuce, courgettes and radishes are more than 95% water. You could get extra health benefits if you eat water rather than drinking it. The water in food is surrounded by other molecules that help it get into our cells more easily. And it ensures it stays in our system for long enough to be put to good use. Studies show that vegetables and fruit can hydrate the body twice as effectively as a glass of water.
Watch For The Signs
Although we are made up of 75 to 80% water at birth, the cells throughout our body gradually dry up with age. And, by the time we reach mid-life we are closer to 50% water. But the thirst mechanism/ drive weakens with age, too, meaning we are less likely to notice thirst and act on it. This means it’s very easy to become dehydrated, particularly in the summer months. Signs are headaches, lethargy and feeling weak – and dark yellow urine. So, make a point of drinking water before you feel thirsty.
Fluid To Function
Adding extra salt to food isn’t good for your health. But many people don’t realise how much salt is hidden in processed foods such as bacon, crisps and even pasta sauces. Too much salt can cause your body to hold on to water (your legs might feel heavy and your stomach will look bloated), but it means you could be depriving other parts of your body – such as your brain – of the fluid it needs to function properly. In the long term, fluid retention can affect your heart and kidneys, too. Drink extra water to offset a particularly salty meal.
Alcohol can be very dehydrating and it takes roughly one hour per unit of alcohol to be processed by the body. So when you’re enjoying a glass of wine in the evening or a cool beer with your lunch, slow things down by ensuring you intersperse each alcoholic drink with a glass of water or soft drink.
In-depth health advice on how to cope in the heat can be found here