By Your Call Publishing | ,

Health Column - October/November 23

Water Good Idea

Unveiling water's critical role in optimum health and fitness

There's a hidden agent of vitality and health, accessible to us all, yet a product so often overlooked in our fast-paced, bustling lives. This miraculous health-booster is as common as it is underestimated - water.

Water comprises about 60% of our body's constitution. This elemental substance, far from being a simple thirst quencher, plays an indispensable role in ensuring our bodies function optimally.

That’s because every cell, organ and tissue in our bodies uses water as its vital lifeline. It aids in regulating our body's temperature, lubricates joints, helps transport nutrients, and is paramount in eliminating toxins. Proper hydration empowers our bodies to operate at their best, increases cognitive function, and can even affect the quality of our sleep.

The scientific community's growing understanding of hydration's role in human health reveals compelling insights. Studies have found that even mild dehydration can alter a person's mood, energy levels and mental function.

Indeed, landmark research published in the Journal of Nutrition found that even a minor level of dehydration – around 2% of body weight – could influence cognitive abilities. The study indicated that tasks involving attention, motor coordination and executive functions became significantly impaired.

In contrast, hydration will strongly enhance athletic performance and recovery, so consumption before, during, and after exercise is instrumental in maintaining overall athletic performance.

Sleep, too, benefits from adequate hydration. According to the National Sleep Foundation, maintaining hydration can prevent nocturnal leg cramps and support sleep quality. Chronic dehydration may lead to more frequent awakenings during the night, leading to a disjointed and less restful sleep experience. This is why, when retiring to bed after a night down the pub, it’s essential to drink water if we want to enjoy a restful night’s sleep… before the hangover kicks in!

While recognising the importance of hydration is a crucial first step, practical strategies to ensure we consume the right amount of water daily are vital. Multiple studies recommend a daily water intake of about 3½ litres (or about 13 cups) for men and 2½ (about nine cups) for women. However, factors such as climate, physical activity and individual health can adjust these recommendations.

To effortlessly incorporate this into your daily routine, begin your day with a glass of water to kickstart your metabolism. Invest in a reusable water bottle and make it your constant companion. There are even smartphone apps available to help remind you to hydrate throughout the day.

Water-rich foods like cucumber, watermelon and oranges can also contribute to your daily intake.

As simple as it may sound, staying properly hydrated is an often-underappreciated cornerstone of health and wellness. The next time you reach for a glass of water, remember, you're not just quenching your thirst, but supporting an entire mass of bodily functions that keep you running at your best. What’s more, the price of water is almost negligible, so staying healthy and remaining on budget can be seen to work side by side in perfect harmony.

Who wouldn’t want to drink to that?!