5 Tips for Better Hydration
Dear lovely customers,
As we seem to have a few weeks of sunny weather ahead of us, I thought now would be a good time to talk about hydration. Soon enough all you fellow Londoners will be sweating buckets on the tube again and winter’s cooler temperatures will feel far, far away! Here’s some tips from Nutritional Therapist, Grace Kingswell
When we get hot and sweaty we feel thirsty, but drinking water is not always the best way to effectively hydrate ourselves. I mentioned the London tubes (mainly because I am really not looking forward to it in the height of summer), but other scenarios in which you need to think about hydrating adequately are: exercise that involves sweating like HIIT or hot yoga, breastfeeding, recovering from illness, having diarrhea or food poisoning or just loose stools in general, and fasting.
Effectively hydrating ourselves isn’t just about taking in fluids, it’s about getting those fluids to our cells via a mechanism of electrically charged minerals. Because we are electrically charged beings, (did you know that when we’re barefoot, as we should be, we pass electrons between the soles of our feet and the earth?), most of the processes that take place inside our bodies are down to this process of electron transfer too. In fact, when we talk about energy production and ATP synthesis, we’re actually just describing a big electron-transfer chain called the Kreb’s Cycle.
So to get water, nutrients, minerals, waste products etc to where we need them to be we need a very specific balance of electrically charged minerals - sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride and phosphate.
These minerals are all abundant in our diets, depending on how good your diet is (the SAD diet, a.k.a Standard American Diet would be quite devoid of these except sodium from salt), but as stated above, there are times when we’re going to need a little bit of a helping hand.
One of the reasons it’s suggested that people try magnesium for cramp is because electrolytes are involved in sparking nerve impulses to make our muscles contract and keep our heart’s beating, but they’re also crucial for maintaining blood pressure, blood acidity and to help repair damaged tissues. Essentially they help make sure our bodies are communicating effectively.
The biggest area of impact, however, is water balance. Take sweating for example - when we sweat it’s our electrolyte balance that makes sure that the water level inside and outside our cells stays exactly the same because it’s this tightly controlled ratio that dictates what can and can’t enter the cell. Sweating, urination and passing a stool are probably the most common scenarios in which we lose electrolytes, and diet is usually the way we replenish them.
The trouble is that sometimes when we feel dehydrated, it’s actually not water that we need but electrolytes. Drinking water dilutes the electrolytes in our tissues, so we feel like our thirst is quenched but we’ve actually dehydrated ourselves to an extent.
So what should we be doing to effectively hydrate ourselves, besides just drinking water? (which is obviously still important!)
1. Adding electrolytes to your drinking water can be helpful in a number of scenarios. Certainly around exercise, loose bowel movements, giving birth, breastfeeding and spending time in a very hot country, but also first thing when you wake up because we get depleted overnight - especially if you’re going to be having a rather beige breakfast.
Sports drinks like lucozade are a real money grabbing ploy and are not that valuable in terms of overall health. If it’s all that’s on offer and you’re severely dehydrated then go for it, but otherwise try Elete Hydration electrolytes added to your water or Totum Sport sachets.
2. Adding good quality sea salt to cooking is also important (and even more so in certain scenarios like pregnancy). Salt is actually vital for health, and conversely it’s actually low salt diets that can wreak havoc with our blood pressure. Try and opt for good quality sea salt of himalayan salt, over table salt - which is highly refined and purified and lacking in minerals as a result of that process.
3. Eating a diverse diet is essential so that you can pick up vital minerals from an abundance of fruits and vegetables. Be aware that if you’re boiling your veg in water then the minerals will leach out into the water. So either steam veggies, or drink the water you cook them in too (provided they’re organic!
4. Adding some fruit juice to your water along with a little pinch of salt is a nifty way to make your own rehydration drink! My preference is for pomegranate juice as it’s also really liver supportive. Celery juice is rich in sodium, and I’m not adverse to a little of that too. Vegetable juices in general can be really supportive of hydration levels, but go easy on the greens if you have any thyroid complaints - and make sure they’re always organic if possible!
5. Taking a magnesium supplement will help too, (most of us are deficient anyway), especially at night if you do suffer from cramp - epsom salt baths are fantastic as well. I particularly like the Magnesium Glycinate from Elivide.
And a cheeky bonus…
6. The type of water you’re drinking matters too. There’s a big difference between tap water, mineral water and distilled water. Tap water in the UK is set to be (or is already) fluoridated - perhaps more on that in an upcoming post - which isn’t necessarily that helpful for our health, and it also contains chlorine and other nasties that have been used to treat and clean the water. I highly recommend filtering your tap water before drinking, but interestingly using a standard carbon filter (as in a Britta Jug) actually depletes the water of the mineral content that is naturally occurring in it. The Rolls Royce of water filters is a Berkey Filter, but that’ll set you back a few hundred pounds at least. Ideally you’d still filter your water at home, but add back in some minerals. Mineral water is great, especially if you can buy it in glass bottles not plastic! Distilled water has been boiled into a vapor and then condensed back into water. This process is likely pretty damaging to the natural mineral content of the water, so to my knowledge most companies that sell distilled water (e.g. Smart Water) add electrolytes back in.