Carry on Drinking (Water!)
London….why is it that people tend to love it or hate it? It’s a beautiful city, but it is crammed full of people, quite often irritable and tired people! I had always put this down to people moving around together en masse, trying in vain to keep a sense of personal space, but recently I’ve had a new thought……how many of them might be dehydrated!?
How often do we hear that we need to drink between 6 to 8 glasses of water a day and how often do we actually manage to achieve that? Whether running round London, sitting at a desk all day or staying closer to home, water is crucial for all of us (not just for those who are exercising) to maintain a healthy functioning body. As humans we can survive a matter of weeks without food but only days without water.
So if you are feeling irritable, impatient, suffering with increased anxiety, low in energy and mood and finding it hard to concentrate, try drinking a couple of glasses of water. That’s not to say that if you are under stress already, that the glasses of water will act like a magic wand and whisk your troubles away. However, you may find the water picks you up more than you might imagine as the brain is one of the organs in most need of water.
A group of scientists from the University of Connecticut’s Human Performance Laboratory found that even mild dehydration (1.5% loss in normal water volume), as a result of our ordinary daily activities, can alter a person’s mood, energy levels and memory function. And guess what? Women are considered to be even more susceptible than men to the adverse effects of low hydration levels!
Unfortunately, the brain has no quick and obvious means of letting us know when we are in need of more water. By the time we are feeling thirsty, we are already likely to be dehydrated, with impaired function of both body and mind.
Dark circles under the eyes, dark and strong smelling urine and feeling lightheaded may be more obvious signs of water loss but did you know that hunger pangs, digestive discomfort and constipation, allergies, lower back pain, restless sleep as well as anxiety, low mood, and sudden bursts of anger can all be further indications?
Stress can cause dehydration and dehydration can cause stress. It is unfortunately a bit of a vicious circle. When we are feeling stressed we lose fluids faster and we are also likely to drink less water, eat poorly and reach for the food and drinks that put further strain on our nervous system.
When we fail to give our body healthy fluids, we are putting it under further stress. So increase your chances of keeping calm and carry on drinking the fluids that maintain good hydration. Here are some ideas to help you:
- Avoid excessive caffeine or alcohol – both act as a diuretic and deplete the body of important minerals and nutrients that benefit the nervous system and keep our body fluids balanced
- Avoid too much salt or sugar as they put strain on the kidneys and the kidneys are essential for regulating volume and balance of bodily fluids
- If you struggle with drinking plain water, try adding a slice of lemon. As well as a pleasant taste it has an alkalising effect on the body
- According to our Nutritionist, Alison Cullen, some of her patients who struggle with drinking water, find it easier to do so through a straw!
- Increase fluid intake through consumption of fruit and vegetables by making broths and homemade green juices (more about this in the next blog post)
- Try swapping caffeinated hot drinks with more herbal teas, such as Golden Rod and Knotgrass Tea a preparation of organically grown and wildcrafted herbs which is cleansing, detoxing and refreshing. It gently supports the kidneys which, as mentioned above, are so important in the maintenance of healthy fluid balance
- Don’t drink your glass of water with your food, rather ensure that you drink it at least 20 minutes either side of a meal. Too much fluid taken with a meal will reduce the body’s natural digestive enzymes and interfere with the breakdown of food
- And last, but not least, make sure that you drink one of your daily big glasses of water on waking. Some of the benefits of water at this time of day specifically are hydration of cells after a long period without water, detoxification and improved metabolism.