Tuesday 16 January 2018

Karl Henry: Tired, thirsty and grumpy? You could be dehydrated

Dehydration affects our day-to-day lives without us even noticing, says our fitness expert. We should be drinking up to three litres a day to stay fit in mind and body

Karl Henry: water is crucial for your health, your body functions and your mind.
Karl Henry: water is crucial for your health, your body functions and your mind.

Karl Henry

With all the controversy around the water charges this week and last, I thought it only right to bring you a column about the same, though I want to tell you what it can do for you in a good, a healthy way, as opposed to what it may do to your wallet!

Your body is made up of 50-55pc water, which is over half of your body weight. This is one of the reasons you may see such a big change in weight at the start of a drastic diet; you are eliminating a large amount of water, not actual fat or muscle.

It is crucial for your health, your body functions and your mind. Pretty much everything you do during the day will require your body to be hydrated, just for your normal day-to-day routines. Add training on top of that, and your hydration will be even more important.

You will read lots about how much you should drink, with varying recommendations. In my opinion, two to three litres a day seems to be the best advice I can give. And while that may seem like a lot, you will be amazed what a difference it can make.

Yes, you will be going to the toilet a lot more, but that is a great way for your body to eliminate toxins, when you do go to the toilet your urine should be clear in colour, not yellow or any other shades. You can actually measure your dehydration by the colour of your urine, so check it out and see where your hydration is at.

How do you actually get two to three litres in each day? Many people use glasses to measure their consumption, but I tell my clients to fill two 1.5 litre bottles of water each morning and aim to have them finished before they go to bed. This makes it simple and also gives you a goal each day too; we are so much better when we use visible targets and far more likely to hit them as opposed to leaving everything vague.

A lot of people ask if tea or herbal teas count? Yes they do, but don't overdo them, aim for one or two each day and then make up the rest up with real water.

Here is an important point - crucial actually - water should never be flavoured with any cordial or drops, or anything else that is processed and preserved.

Flavoured water in bottle-form is not good for you either - it's just sugar. If you want to flavour your water then add your own fruit. Personally I use mint or cucumber or limes to flavour mine, just dice them up and place them in the bottle and the fruit will naturally do the rest. Simple and natural ways to flavour your water are far better than the sugary substitutes.

In terms of sports, if your sport or gym work is less than an hour long, then you certainly don't need a sports drink, just use plain water instead.

Sports drinks may be beneficial in longer sports, but generally they are overused and unnecessarily adding sugar into your day, so stick to your water and you will be doing much better. By not drinking enough water you will be dehydrated, which will affect pretty much everything you do, from your normal workday to your performance in sport or at the gym.

More worryingly, being dehydrated can make you confuse hunger with actual thirst, so you eat more often and snack more when you are actually just thirsty. Don't believe me? Well then try drinking your three litres and watch what happens to your food intake.

Dehydration seriously affects your mood, your productivity, your motivation, your happiness and pretty much all that you do.

So my advice is ditch the sports drinks, the diet drinks, the juices that aren't freshly made, ditch overloading on tea and coffee and replace it with pure water in its most natural form.

Personally I buy two six-packs of water every Sunday with my supermarket shop and place one in the car so that I have plenty of water with me no matter where I am.

Try it yourself!

Irish Independent

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