JUST ADD WATER THIS SUMMER!
It’s summer and, as the weather warms up and we spend more time outdoors, we need to drink more.
That doesn’t necessarily have to mean litres of Coke or other fancy sodas, ice cold beers or sugar laden cocktails but good old H2O – the stuff that we, in South Africa, are lucky enough to still be able to drink straight from the tap. (Although, if you do have concerns in your area, there are filters and even mineral waters that will do a great job).
The biggest problem is that so many of us either aren’t in the habit of drinking water or get so busy during the day that the hours roll by without a single glass.
What we don’t realise is that water is not so much a nice to have but a have to have – according to researchers (who are split on this issue), our bodies are made up of anything between 60 and 80% water and, if you don’t replenish it (particularly on a hot day), your health will suffer. That’s because water is necessary for hydration of important organs, transporting nutrients, flushing out toxins and regulating temperature. Even your joints and bones need water, it’s even known to prevent your skin from becoming wrinkly.
That simply means we have to consider water to be a vital nutrient.
So many of us believe that the cuppa (coffee or tea) that makes its way on our desks is the perfect excuse to skip having a glass of water. The same goes for that early morning wake up brew or the end of day glass of wine. Nothing could be further from the truth – loads of caffeine comes with a whole set of risks and alcohol is dehydrating which means the body actually rids itself of the very substance it needs to stay hydrated. This is because the body treats alcohol as a toxin and tries to get rid of it asap.
If you are one of those people who only drink water when your body signals to you that you are really thirsty, then you are probably dehydrated already. Don’t wait until then, stay one step ahead and keep rehydrating throughout the day.
If you don’t normally drink water regularly then you may find you need to go to the loo a few more times once you start trying to up your water consumption, but ride it out as your body will soon adjust.
The standard suggested healthy amount of water is 6 to 8 glasses per day. This will exclude any liquids consumed during exercise.
Here are a few ideas to get you into the habit of drinking more H2O:
Have a glass of water as you waiting for the kettle to boil in the morning and another before breakfast – that’s two down before the day has even begun.
Put your water into a 2 litre container so that you can keep tabs on how you are doing through the day. It is well worth investing in a glass bottle as the plastic variety may leach out harmful chemicals especially if used over and over again. But, remember that your glass bottle will need to be washed thoroughly between fill-ups
If you are meeting friends at the local pub or enjoying sundowners in one of our beautiful spots, try having a glass of water in between each alcoholic beverage that you order. That way, your body does not get dehydrated. It just may help stop that headache that can pitch up the next morning after a night out.
Try popping some fruit into your water – sliced apple, oranges, lemon, strawberries, blueberries, grapefruit. With lemons, oranges and grapefruit, you could even squeeze the juice into the water and then ‘plonk’ in the slice. Make your own combinations of fruit, like lemon and strawberries together. Play around and find a mix you like. Adding some sliced cucumber makes for a lovely refreshing taste
Add herbs and spices. Cucumber, lemon and rosemary is a great ‘pick me up’ combination. Strawberry, mint and ginger is also a flavourful mix.
Drink herbal teas. Rooibos tea is a readily available and affordable tea. Drink your tea hot or, once made, put it in a bottle in the fridge for iced tea. You can add any of the above to your herbal teas or buy ready-made flavoured teas where you just need to add good old water.
If sugary carbonated cool drinks are your usual drink of choice, then try using sparkling or soda water as your base and add one or a combination of the above. Sparkling or soda water is still better for you than fizzy syrupy sodas.
If you have digestive issues or you are worried that drinking too much water could create a problem, try to drink any fluids up to 30 minutes before eating a meal so you don’t dilute your body’s natural digestive juices. Also, try not to drink under an hour after eating so your system has a chance to absorb necessary nutrients from your meal.
Create reminders to drink water – put out a pretty jug with fruit and glasses at a braai, work with a friend and remind each other to drink more water during the day. There are also some super apps on your phone that remind you when it’s time to have a drink.
All in all, your goal should be to make sure that your body is best equipped to handle the warmer weather – and to get into the habit of drinking plenty of water even during the colder months.
So, here’s to developing a water habit!