Word on Health

Word on Hydration

It’s not just hot weather that puts people at risk of dehydration. When it’s cold, people may drink less. This may be due to a reduced thirst response or simply because we don’t feel like chilled drinks in cold weather.  So, it’s helpful to be aware of how much fluid you’re consuming each day.  Plain water is a great choice, but water in the diet can come from many sources, some of which we may find surprising. 

There are so many mixed messages about hydration that many of us may either feel that they need to drink excessive amounts of water or that they don’t need to drink water at all. 

The evidence shows that a variety of drinks can contribute to hydration, but, with obesity levels increasing, we do need to be aware of the calorie content of our drinks.

Drinking the right type of fluids can be important to overall health and weight management, especially when you consider that there are often hidden calories in drinks, as well as in food.  Also, calorie rich drinks usually do not give you the same feeling of fullness as foods do, so you may well be consuming many more calories than you imagine when you’re drinking.  Drinks that contain sugar, fat or alcohol also contain calories, and drinks such as sports drinks, juices, smoothies, cappuccino-style coffees and alcoholic drinks can contribute significant amounts of calories to the diet.  For example, a large coffee, made with whole milk, syrup and cream can be over 500 calories, which is about a quarter of the daily guideline amount of calories.”

Everyone should know that drinking water is a good way to stay hydrated but drinking tea and coffee (but being careful about the milk/cream/sugar/syrup you might add)  can be a major contributor to fluid intake

Many people who believe that drinks containing caffeine actively dehydrate the body and, therefore, negate any hydrating benefit the water in the drink may have.   Although caffeine has a mild diuretic effect, drinking some caffeinated drinks – such as 4 mugs of instant coffee or 5 mugs of tea a day - does not cause any extra urine production.  The only group of people who need to be careful to limit their caffeine intake are pregnant women
And as for fluids in food....It might not be obvious but food also provides water in the diet – a valuable 20% of our fluid intake in fact, or the equivalent of 2 extra glasses of water on average.  The water content of foods varies widely from over 90% in some fruits and vegetables to less than 5% in savoury snacks and confectionery.

Foods like soups and stews where a lot of water is added during cooking are great for helping to keep the body hydrated.  The rich water content of fruits and vegetables means that eating the recommended ‘5 a day’ also contributes to keeping hydrated and having more energy for life.”

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