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Healthy Hydration

Why is water important?
Water regulates our temperature, cushions and protects our vital organs, aids digestion, transport nutrients to working muscles and organs, helps dispel waste and can help prevent us from over-eating.

In doing all of these things, water is consumed or expelled from our bodies, which means that it needs to be continually replaced. When the temperature of our body rises, during exercise for example, we lose higher amounts of water through sweat. In one hour of intense exercise, our body can lose up to a litre or more of water.

Dehydration
When we fail to replace lost water and our body can’t cool itself properly, we enter a state of dehydration. If you’ve ever felt thirsty, you have experienced dehydration. In a dehydrated state our body is unable to cool itself properly, which in extreme cases can lead to heat exhaustion and possibly heat stroke. Without an adequate supply of water we begin to lack energy and our muscles may begin to cramp. To prevent dehydration, exercisers must drink adequate amounts of water before, during and after their workout or event.

Another disadvantage to dehydration is potential overeating. When we don’t drink enough fluids, our body gives us signals which resemble hunger pains. When this happens, many of us start eating unnecessary calories because we have misunderstood what our body is trying to tell us. By staying well-hydrated throughout the day, we minimise the chance of unnecessary eating and maximize our chances of achieving our weight loss goals.

Fluid balance and replenishment
It is very important that we all drink enough water. Thirst is a signal that our body is already on the way to dehydration.

One easy way to check that you are adequately hydrated is to check the colour of your urine. If your urine is light to clear you are fine, if your urine is too dark the chances are that you are not drinking enough water and may be becoming dehydrated. Of course, if you are taking vitamin supplements, this test may not be accurate because supplements tend to darken the colour of your urine for several hours after taking them.

Water is usually the best fluid replenishment for most people, but sports drinks can provide added benefits in extreme conditions. As well as containing water, some sports drinks contain electrolytes and other trace elements which aid in fluid absorption, which is very important if you are exercising at a high intensity for more than 45 minutes or so.

But remember, water is not the only source of fluid replacement. Healthy foods like fruits, juices, soups and vegetables all contain varying degrees of water that aids in the replenishment of lost fluids.

By world standards, Australian’s are very lucky to have access to safe, clean drinking water. This makes staying well hydrated really easy, so what are you waiting for? Drink up!

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