It’s often believed that there are three macronutrients, however you may be interested to know there are indeed actually four with the fourth being water.
Water is essential to maintain many of our daily physiological functions such as; transporting nutrients around the body and waste products to the kidney for excretion, ensuring that the body’s processes are maintained within their narrow ranges (in scientific terms that’s homeostatic control) and acting as a shock absorber between joints and bones. When we are in a hypo-hydrated state (often referred to as dehydrated) our bodies are unable to function optimally.
Hypohydration can cause dry mouth, fatigue, headaches, irritability, confusion and reduced brain functioning. You can imagine that over a prolonged period of time this can be potentially dangerous and our water intake is definitely something to be aware of. What we now also know is that hypohydration can often lead you to overeat as well as you can easily mistake your thirst signals for hunger. Ever eaten a snack and realised you’re not satisfied so you drink some water instead? In this case, your body was simply trying to alert you of its water requirements. You also often lose more water than you might think. It’s not just when you pass urine. Water is also lost through sweat, faeces and through your breath too. Equally, you don’t just gain through the bottle you’re sipping from. Food and metabolism can also account for some water gains too.
It’s recommended to consume around 2L of water per day, however, if you’re exercising regularly or it’s particularly hot you may wish to increase your water intake. Remember to drink to thirst rather than over consuming on water.
Below are some top tips for staying hydrated.
- Carry your water: this might sound so basic but if you’ve ever got to 5pm and realised you’ve barely sipped all day you’ll appreciate the value in this. Carrying your water will encourage you to sip regularly. Your body is also much more likely to utilise the water if you sip regularly throughout the day rather than drink a whole load at one time.
- Eat your fruits and veggies: fruits and vegetables naturally have a high water content which means that by opting for these with your lunch or as a snack you’re helping your body stay hydrated. Foods such as cucumbers, tomatoes and celery are high in water so change your snacks and switch up your salads. Of course, make sure you’re eating a balance of energy dense foods alongside this too!
- Switch up your coffee: Coffee contributes to dehydration due to it’s caffeine content (which acts as a diuretic) so ensure you’re topping up with water or herbal teas instead.
- Record your water intake: whilst you’re getting into consuming your 2L daily download a water app which allows you to set regular reminders to get gulping.
- Alcohol, water, alcohol: Unfortunately, alcohol is another key contributor to hypohydration so ensure you’re drinking a glass of water between each drink. Your body and your head will thank you for it the next day too.
Whilst water is a vital macronutrient like anything there’s such a thing as too much. Consuming too much water can disrupt the electrolyte balance of your blood and can cause hyponatremia, a condition where your sodium levels are too low. Hyponatremia can lead to nausea and vomiting and in severe cases seizures, confusion and loss of consciousness.