Water Intake, Dehydration & You

“If you want to live the healthiest life possible and boost your overall wellness, you should drink more water.”

It’s fair to assume that no one reading the above statement is surprised by the idea that drinking plenty of water is crucial to human health. The fact is repeated to the point of cliche, often suggested as a cure for all ills. We all know we should be drinking more water to stave off the damage chronic dehydration can cause, enjoy a clearer complexion, and simply feel better - but is the matter actually that simple? Below, we’ve dug into the facts to try and get to the bottom of this often basically-presented - but actually surprisingly complex - issue.

The “8x8 rule”

The general recommendation is that you should drink eight (8 oz) glasses of water per day - but, unfortunately, this has been disputed on numerous occasions. Some argue that the 8x8 “rule” is arbitrary, while others dismiss it as it doesn’t take into account various lifestyle factors - for example, someone who is exercising heavily should definitely drink more than 8x8 per day.

So, how much water should you drink? It’s really up to you. If you’re thirsty, then drink water. If you’re not thirsty, then you can go without if you prefer - though there are a few caveats to keep in mind.

The risk of diuretics

Diuretics are beverages that actually contribute to dehydration. The most common example is alcohol; if you’re thirsty and you drink a glass of wine, in terms of your body’s response, you’ll be more dehydrated as a result of doing so. The same applies to beverages that contain caffeine, such as coffee and green tea; the caffeine acts as a diuretic, which worsens dehydration.

Even worse, the problems diuretics can cause will be exacerbated if you are exercising regularly. It is also worth noting that the two diuretics above are not particularly beneficial beverages, either: alcohol is often misused, while the benefits of caffeine are minimal. As a result, it may be worth exploring the possibility of alternatives- such as learning how to stop drinking or maybe switching to decaf or limiting your caffeine usage. Ultimately, the benefits of cutting out alcohol and limiting your caffeine intake expand far beyond simply improving hydration levels, but can also undoubtedly be beneficial in this regard.

The importance of proper hydration during exercise

In discussing the above, we have noted the need for adequate hydration during exercise, and this is a point that is worth underlining. If you are working out, and particularly if you are sweating, then you will need to increase your water intake accordingly. It’s also worth noting that this is advisable even if you don’t particularly feel thirsty; if you’ve lost fluids due to exercise, then they need to be replenished regardless of how well-hydrated you feel.


In conclusion... Increasing your water intake is often suggested as an essential for all health-related issues but, as we have pointed out above, the matter is a little more complex than is often presented. So, while it is important to note the potential issues caused by diuretics and exercise, as a general rule: drink water when you’re thirsty, and you shouldn’t go far wrong.


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How To Beat A Hangover

Drinking alcohol is like borrowing happiness from the next day – it’s fun there and then, but the next day you have to deal with the consequences, which often involves nausea and a killer headache. Some people are pretty much immune to hangovers, whilst other people can end up bedridden for the next day just by having a few drinks. If you suffer from the latter type of hangover, here are just a few ways in which you can beat the dreaded alcohol after-effects.

Eat before you drink

Lining your stomach is always a sensible option. Eating lots of carbs beforehand is especially worthwhile – the likes of brown rice, pasta and sweet potato will help you absorb alcohol more slowly. This can make the alcohol less of a payload for your body and more of a gradual hit that the body can prepare itself for.

Drink water

Alcohol may be a liquid, but it will actually dehydrate your body. After your night of drinking, try to drink a few glasses of water before you go to bed. The day after, you should then aim to drink 2 to 3 liters if possible. This will restore your body’s water levels and beat that headache.

Consider detox supplements

For those that want something more heavy duty, there are many types of medications aimed specifically at ridding hangovers. You can even try a 24 hour detox cleanse. You may be able to find such supplements in your local pharmacy or by searching online.

Load up on vitamins

In order for the liver to detox your body, it needs lots of vitamins. Foods such as spinach, avocado, banana and egg are some of the best choices the morning after as they are full of vitamins needed to help rid your body of the alcohol. You can also try taking vitamin supplements.

Exercise

A workout might be the last thing you want to do when you’re hanging, but physical activity could be just what your body needs to help cleanse yourself of the toxins. Exercise gets the blood flowing and the lymphatic system working, helping to get rid of toxins, whilst pumping the body with feelgood hormones that make it feel less drained.

Avoid caffeine

Caffeine is just another drug for your liver to try and process – a cup of coffee the next morning might seem like a good idea for making you more awake, but it could just make you feel worse. If you’re going to have a hot drink, try ginger tea which is caffeine-free and full of nutrients that can help fight nausea. Ideally, you should never mix caffeine and alcohol during a drinking session – Jager bombs and vodka and coke are certain to make things hard work for your liver and leave you feeling miserable the next day.

Don’t mix your drinks

Different drinks contain different types of alcohol and are processed in different ways. For this reason the body has a harder time getting rid of alcohol when you’ve mixed your drinks. Stick to one drink if you can – if you’re having wine stick to white or red.

Limit your alcohol

Of course, the most obvious way to prevent hangovers is to not drink as much. Many people forget that alcohol is effectively a poison. By sticking to a few drinks or going teetotal for the night, you won’t have to deal with the dreaded after effects - you don’t always need alcohol to have a good time.


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