Our body consists of 70% water and undoubtedly, water is the most important component required for human existence. All the cells, tissues, the different organs need water so that they can work properly. Having an adequate level of water helps regulate the temperature in the body, maintaining an overall good health, lubricating the joints among other things. There are many ways of getting the water content right in our body, and it comes with knowing the different foods and consumption patterns that help us regulate the water content in our body and keeping us hydrated.
1) On an average, it is advisable to consume 6-8 ounce glasses of water per day, though it really depends on from person to person and the requirement may increase depending upon their physical activity. Water hydrates our muscles and keeps our joints lubricated, it plumps up our skin and is non-caloric. Water is always preferable over soft drinks, sodas, tea/coffee and other drinks because these act as diuretics and pull off the fluid from our body because of the caffeine content in them. However, a moderate amount of consumption of caffeinated drinks is not harmful in most cases.
2) Fruits and vegetables also have a good amount of water content and some of the varieties have more water in them that others eg. citrus fruits like lemon, watermelon, grapes, berries and vegetables like tomatoes, lettuce etc. Vegetable soup broths are a great way to keep oneself hydrated. Fruit juices and smoothies are amazing ways for keeping the water content in check as well as bring in the additional nutritional content in the body, especially after a physical workout.
Many of the seasonal fruits and vegetables like melon, strawberries, cucumber and tomatoes which are available in hot summer months are rich in necessary electrolytes and minerals, as well as carbohydrates and water.
3) Sports drinks and Energy drinks are almost essential to professional sportspeople and those with similar kind of strenuous physical routine. Sports drinks contain carbohydrates and electrolytes and for those who are exercising at above normal levels, for more than an hour, it is essential to help the body absorb water. Sports drinks can also be higher in calories due to the added sugar and may also contain high levels of sodium (i.e. salt). These can also contain some amount of caffeine, so it is advisable to ensure the consumption based on the serving size. A safe level of caffeine for consumption is 200 to 300 mg.
Energy drinks contain large amounts of caffeine and sugar, and also ingredients that are meant to over stimulate you like taurine, ginseng or guarana. These are not advisable for children.
Electrolytes and carbohydrates help the body in absorbing and retention of water and electrolytes such as sodium, calcium, chloride, magnesium and potassium help regulate healthy nerve and muscle function. Since these electrolytes can be lost through sweat, thus sports drinks etc can be helpful in making up for this loss.
4) Flavored water like cucumber water, coconut water, lemon water or homemade sports drinks are also excellent ways of keeping yourself hydrated in summers where we lose so much of the water content in the body due to sweat. Since sweat evaporates quickly in the summer heat, weighing ourselves before and after a workout can be an important parameter for gauging our sweat losses and the consequent hydration needs. Losing less than an ounce of body weight in a work out is optimal. However, when it exceeds the level, then we need to rely on water or some appropriate drink or food to keep us hydrated.
5) Regulating the color of our urine can help us keep a check on our hydration levels. It is advisable to check the color of the urine before and after any outdoor workouts, especially in tropical climates. If the urine color is light lemonade, it indicates a healthy level of hydration. However, if it is dark yellow, it typically suggests maintaining a proper hydration level in the body.
6) One of the lesser known facts is that during airplane travel, where the low-humidity air contributes to low hydration statuses upon touchdown, it is always advisable to opt for water instead of soda and keep yourself hydrated consciously. The higher sugar content in soft drinks can not only cut off on the body fluid but even tamper with the body’s natural ability to absorb water.
7) There are other minor factors which also indicate dehydration like dry mouth, muscles becoming easily fatigued which can also help prevent the decline in performance during workouts. Also, feeling lightheaded or dizzy during workouts is a sign that the body is dehydrated.
Madhulika Mitra is a fantasy connoisseur, a realm creatrix, a shadow-seeker, and a cosmic cardslinger.