Just add water

21 Aug 2014
POSTED BY Y Magazine

Temperatures might be dipping, but staying hydrated is vital for good health and a clear mind, says Felicity Glover

Did you know that water makes up two thirds of our body weight, that our brain is 95 per cent water, our lungs 90 per cent and blood 82 per cent?

That’s a lot of H2O, so it’s no wonder that water is a vital element needed for our day-to-day survival – especially during the hot summer months in Oman, when temperatures can reach upwards of 50°C. Simply put, we could die without it.

According to freedrinkingwater.com, just a two percent drop in our body’s water supply can trigger early signs of dehydration.

“Fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic maths and difficulty focusing on smaller print, such as a computer screen” are signs of dehydration, the website states. “Mild dehydration is also one of the most common causes of daytime fatigue.”

So your grandmother’s advice to drink eight glasses of water a day is as relevant today as it was back in her time. 

Dehydration is a serious risk in the GCC region and can quickly affect young children and the elderly, warns Christina Doublichevitche, the regional nutrition and health manager for Unilever North Africa Middle East.

“Water is crucial for human life,” she says. “It accounts for around 70 per cent of body weight, depending upon age. Losing just two per cent of this water leads to dehydration. 

“Dehydration is the loss of water and salts essential for normal body function. Even a fluid loss of one to two per cent can have an adverse affect on physical and mental performance. It is essential we consume enough water every day to stay healthy and fit.”

Dr Doublichevitche warns dehydration is more common during the summer months and it is essential to stay cool during this period.

Our bodies are a medium for all chemical reactions and staying cool and hydrated helps to regulate body temperature, she says.

“Maintaining hydration also provides vitality and flexibility of joints, as well as the elasticity of the skin and adds that sparkle to your eyes,” says Dr Doublichevitche, who is based in the UAE.

But drinking water isn’t the only way to stay hydrated. Some of the many sports drinks on the market could help to replenish essential minerals and salts, while fruit and vegetables are a healthy way to stay on top of your H20 intake. 

Water-rich fruits and vegetables can include lettuce, watermelon, oranges, apples and grapes – and are a delicious alternative to the eight glasses of water a day rule.

Dr Doublichevitche adds that drinking tea is another great way to help stave off dehydration, in particular herbal teas without milk or sugar.

Freedrinkingwater.com says drinks containing caffeine have a mild diuretic effect and are a waste of time, while fizzy drinks only add to your waistline.

But how do you know if you are drinking enough?

“There are three important rules when it comes drinking water,” the website says. 

These are drinking twice as much as it takes to quench your thirst, drinking frequently throughout the day to prevent dehydration and, finally, drinking at least eight glasses of water a day.

Here’s to drinking to your health.

Symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration

  • Dry, sticky mouth
  • Sleepiness or tiredness – children are likely to be less active than usual
  • Thirst
  • Decreased urine output
  • No wet nappies for three hours for infants
  • Few or no tears when crying
  • Dry skin
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

Source: Mayo Clinic

Symptoms of severe dehydration

  • Extreme thirst
  • Extreme fussiness or sleepiness in infants and children; irritability and confusion in adults
  • Very dry mouth, skin and mucous membranes
  • Little or no urination, and any urine that is produced will be darker than normal
  • Sunken eyes
  • Shrivelled and dry skin that lacks elasticity and doesn’t “bounce back” when pinched into a fold
  • In infants, sunken fontanels – the soft spots on the top of a baby’s head
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Rapid breathing
  • No tears when crying
  • Fever
  • In the most serious cases, delirium or unconsciousness

Source: Mayo Clinic

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