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We all know it is important to ensure your body is properly hydrated, however, not always an easy task.
This Christmas may be different thanks to all the restrictions, however, I am sure that many people will be celebrating with family either physically or virtually. This may well involve an alcoholic drink or 3, please remember that alcohol is a diuretic, which means that as your water levels decrease your brain will detect this and thirst cues will kick in. Avoid alcohol if you are thirsty as alcohol encourages the body to get rid of excess fluids through urine and sweat and can therefore lead to dehydration.
This blog examines why water is so important to us, and some tips on how you can stay hydrated.
How water helps you stay hydrated and healthy
Water keeps your body fluids in balance, benefiting all of the systems in the body.
- Helps to prevent fluid loss,
- If your skin stays hydrated your skin it won't become dry and wrinkly
- Water helps in the transport of nutrients to muscles, and removal of waste products created by muscles as they work.
- Normal skeletal muscle function is affected by dehydration
- Need water to lubricate them and to maintain the cartilages
- Dehydrated leads to cartilages becoming weaker, thinner and more prone to injury.
- Cardiovascular System
- Uses water to maintain blood volume.
- Dehydration creates more work for your heart as it pushes the blood around your body ensuring enough oxygen gets to all cells.
- Use water to help detox and cleanse blood and body fluids.
- A decrease in water leads to dark smelly concentrated urine
- Toxins can begin to build up, in extreme cases forming kidney stones.
- Aids digestion & absorption, and transportation of essential nutrients
- Not enough and you will become constipated
Stay hydrated to reduce your pain
Chronic pain may be a sign of dehydration, many people report getting headaches or even migraines if they are dehydrated, and some studies have shown that if you have pain already hydration can make it feel worse in arthritic pain, muscle pain and back pain, as well as other forms of pain. If you have chronic pain, try drinking more water first and if that doesn't work - call your osteopath.
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Tips to help you drink plenty of water
People often ask how much water do you need to drink to stay hydrated. The answer is often vague. It will depend on your gender, your age, your body size, and what activities you are doing. The more physical activity you do and the more you sweat, then the more fluid you will need. The general recommendation in the UK is to aim for 6-8 glasses of fluid (this can include low-fat milk, tea and coffee (so long as they are sugar-free).
- If you have dry lips, eyes or mouth you are already dehydrated.
- Try to drink a glass of water every hour.
- If you aren't a fan of water try a weak unsugared squash, add fruit to a glass of water, or try herbal teas (avoid alcoholic, high sugar or caffeine drinks).
- Carry a time marked water bottle with you (place one by your desk or chair) and make sure you drink the required amount by each time marked.
- Eat more fruit and vegetables - 20% of our water intake can come from our food.
- You should be able to pass water every couple of hours and your urine should be the colour of straw. Any less frequently or any darker and you are dehydrated.
If you are concerned about dehydration and how it may be affecting you please speak to your Doctor.