Sometimes it’s the little things that make a huge difference in your health and well-being. These days, whether you wash your hands or take a minute to wipe your table or door knob can determine if you’ll be healthy or end up with Covid.
The same applies to this one very important thing called hydration. How much water do you actually drink in a day? Do you consciously remind yourself to drink water or do you only sip on coffee, tea or flavoured carbonated drinks to quenched your parched throat at the end of a long day? Is drinking only water enough to ensure complete and effective hydration?
Hydration Is Key
It has been long documented that drinking 8 glasses a day , or more, as recommended by some experts, is key to maintaining health.
“Water regulates our body temperature, keeps our joints lubricated, helps prevent infections and delivers nutrients to our cells,” said registered US dietitian, Lisa Drayer.
“Additionally, our kidneys and liver work hard to get rid of toxins in our bodies, and they depend on water to do their job.”
Drinking water regularly in the day does so much to keep organs functioning properly.
Douglas Casa, CEO of the Korey Stringer Institute, which studies athletic performance, says being well-hydrated also improves sleep quality, cognition, memory and even affects mood!
If you suffer from migraines, a lack of fluids might easily trigger an episode. Headaches may also last longer if you are low on fluids. Dehydration can leave you feeling unable to concentrate, cause short-term memory issues and result in you feeling moody and anxious.
While many of us have gotten vaccinated with booster shots by now, the majority of the Malaysian population has experienced dealing with post vaccine and even post Covid recovery by now. Being well hydrated may just be the remedy we need to aid our body’s natural healing process in addition to rest and reducing strenuous exercise.
Fluids That Harm
And this doesn’t just mean drinking copious amounts of water a day. It also means eliminating unhealthy fluids that do more harm than good.
Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health advises people to stay away from sweet, sugar-filled beverages when trying to stay hydrated. He adds that many of us are conditioned to expect high levels of sweetness in everything we consume, which adds to our ‘malhydration’.
“We drink so much soda, artificial fruit juice and other sugar-sweetened beverages, and by that I mean we drink beverages that harm our health. Even energy drinks and most vitamin waters are loaded with sugar and not worth the use.” he remarks.
Most importantly, effective hydration means incorporating electrolytes into our fluid intake. Electrolytes contain much needed minerals to balance our body’s health such as sodium, calcium, potassium and magnesium.
When we get dehydrated, a lot more water moves out of your body’s cells than into them. We not only lose water, but also lose some amount of electrolytes which are critical to cell function and energy, such as sodium and potassium.
This is why dehydration affects us so badly . Constantly losing water and electrolytes throughout the day through breath, sweat, urine and bowel movements causes even mild dehydration to exhaust you, affects many of your body’s daily functions and can even make you feel hungry. Because dehydration can often be mistaken for hunger, you might gain weight by eating a lot more than you really need. The good news is, you can lose weight if you are hydrating yourself well enough with water and electrolytes.
“If you are looking to lose weight, water can help you shed pounds,” Drayer says.”Drinking a glass of water before a meal can fill you up a bit and help you eat fewer calories at a meal.”
Certified WILDFIT Coach and psychotherapist, Dharamjot Kaur Khalsa, supports this sentiment, and adds “500 years ago people were not walking around with water bottles. Our thirst was satisfied by the fresh food we ate that was full of water. Now our food is so dehydrated and so are we.We mistake the feeling of thirst for hunger which in turn leads to over eating. Sometimes we just need a glass of water instead of chocolate or a donut.”
The key, then, is to make sure you get your electrolytes into your fluids. Coconut water is extremely rich in potassium, sodium, and chloride. This sodium-enriched nature’s elixir may be even more effective than a traditional electrolyte sports drink not only for post-exercise rehydration therapy but also as a cooling remedy to reduce inflammation while you are recovering post vaccine. Other drinks that are rich in electrolytes include watermelon juice or other fresh fruit juices, smoothies such as green juices, lassi (yoghurt drink) and all types of milk, including nut milks.
Water is known as the elixir of life, and with good reason. Every system in your body needs it to survive. However, there is more to hydration than just drinking water.
Hydrate with natural fluids containing electrolytes and you may have just stumbled upon the very thing you needed to heal inflammation and recover naturally from the harmful long effects of Covid.