OUR GUESTS’ MOST ASKED HYDRATION QUESTIONS
All guests of Kamalaya are given a body composition analysis as part of their initial wellness consultation that involves assessing hydration levels. Naturopath Kate Upton answers the 10 questions relating to hydration that our guests most frequently ask.
What is hydration?
A healthy human body contains about 50% water in females and 60 % water in males. Our vital organs such as heart and brain contain an even higher percentage of water at around 75-85%. Many people do not consider water as part of ‘nutrition’ – but in fact it is an absolutely foundational aspect of our diet, influencing the short- and long-term health of our entire body.
How much water should I drink per day?
Many people are familiar with 1.5 – 2 liters of water per day as a guideline. However, it is impossible to make a ‘one-size fits all’ recommendation. Use 2 liters as a starting point but also consider the following factors which may indicate that you need more:
- Climate. Water is lost through the skin even when you are not noticeably sweating. Those in hot climates will lose more water throughout the day.
- Body size. People with a larger body frame, height and weight will require more water than those with a smaller overall mass.
- Level of activity. Those who frequently exercise will require a larger water intake to stay hydrated.
- How much you sweat. How much people sweat varies from one person to another, as well as within one person’s lifetime (eg. During menopause, women will likely sweat more due to hot flushes). If you sweat a lot – you need to drink more water.
- If you are detoxing. Many guests at Kamalaya are wishing to cleanse or detox. It is a good idea to increase water consumption to facilitate the process of toxin excretion from the body’s tissues.
- The water content of the foods you eat. Someone eating a lot of dry foods such as bread, pasta and biscuits will need to drink more water than those eating a diet including ample water-rich fruits and vegetables, such as cucumber, melon, courgettes and tomatoes.
- Intake of diuretics. Diuretics increase the production of urine. Caffeine is a diuretic, as is alcohol, so the intake of these will increase your water intake requirement. Some medicines are also diuretic – it is worth checking this.
How can I tell if I am dehydrated?
It is a good idea to monitor your hydration levels with self-assessment. Signs of dehydration include:
- Feeling thirsty
- A dry tongue or mouth
- Dark yellow urine (urine should be the color of pale straw)
- Lack of concentration and clouded thinking
- Urinating fewer than 4 times per day
What are the benefits of being hydrated?
Hydration is important for every cell in the body, so we cannot isolate the benefits of good hydration to a particular organ system. However, some of the most noticeable benefits of consistently good hydration are:
- Improved skin health and ‘glow’
- Clearer thinking, improved memory
- Improved hydration can help to clear stubborn weight that has been difficult to shift
- Increased energy levels
- Improved fitness performance
What time of day should I drink?
It is better to drink smaller amounts gradually throughout the day as opposed to larger amounts ‘in one go’. The only times it is best to avoid drinking are:
- During meals – as it dilutes your stomach acid, the potency of which is important for fully digesting food. It is best to leave drinking 30 minutes either side of meals.
- Before bed – as it can disturb sleep by waking in the night to urinate. It is best to leave a 1–2-hour gap in drinking before bed
Does wine count towards my daily water intake? Coffee? Herbal tea?
As mentioned, as caffeine and alcohol are diuretic, these actually increase our water requirement and cannot be included as part of our daily intake. Non-caffeinated herbal teas, such as chamomile, licorice, and peppermint, can absolutely count towards water intake.
What are electrolytes?
Electrolytes are particular minerals including potassium, calcium, and sodium, that are essential for use in muscle contraction and in regulating blood pressure, safe pH balance, and our levels of hydration. The best way to replenish electrolytes is with a varied and nutrient-rich diet. As electrolytes are lost via sweat, those who sweat a lot and/or work out regularly can benefit by adding electrolytes to water. This can be achieved by adding lemon or lime juice to water, or a pinch of a naturally occurring salt such as Himalayan crystal salt. Coconut water is also a good source of electrolytes- and a popular option here at Kamalaya! Avoid sports drinks with added sugar, sweeteners, and colorings.
I drink a lot, but I still feel thirsty. Why?
- You may not be drinking as much as you think, it is a good idea to track and record your water intake.
- Assess all the factors previously mentioned – have you underestimated your water requirement? Does your diet consist of mainly dry foods? Perhaps you are low in electrolytes (see above).
- Do you have a sedentary lifestyle? Movement is important for circulating the blood, and therefore water, in the body. You may need to increase your activity levels.
- Excessive thirst can be a symptom of hyperglycemia (elevated blood sugar) and hypercalcemia (elevated levels of calcium in the blood). If thirst is a persistent problem for you, it is best to discuss it with your doctor.
Does it matter if my water is hot or cold?
Generally speaking, it is preferable to drink water at room temperature or warmer. This is to conserve the heat and digestive power of the stomach. However, if you only have cold water available in a given moment, or if you feel drawn to a cold drink it is more important to be hydrated. Within Traditional Chinese Medicine, the hot / cold and yin / yang balance within a person’s body can hold deeper significance for consuming hot and cold food and drinks – including that which is energetically hot (e.g. ginger) and cold (e.g. cucumber). If you have symptoms that relate to temperature such as cold extremities or acid reflux, a Traditional Chinese Medicine consultation will provide insight on your body’s specific requirements.
How can I encourage myself to drink more?
- Prepare your water in advance and make conscious targets. For example, having a bottle on your desk and knowing you need to finish it before lunch time.
- Take time to think about how to make drinking water more appealing – which herbal teas do you enjoy? Do you have lemons on hand to add a slice to a glass? Consider this when writing your weekly shopping list.
- Invest in beautiful vessels such as glasses, mugs, tea pots and serving jugs to encourage yourself to drink more.
- There are free apps available to download that allow you to record your water consumption so you can keep track of your intake and compare one day to another, helping to identify patterns in your routine. Many also allow you to set a notification at hourly intervals as a reminder to take a drink.
If you are interested in improving your body composition, including balanced hydration, fat, and lean mass, consider visiting us and enjoying our Ideal Weight wellness program. This thoroughly immersive and holistic program synergistically combines personal training, nutritional guidance, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Far Infra-Red Sauna as well as therapeutic massage treatments in order to guide the body towards its optimal healthy composition and long term, sustainable metabolic health.
Written by: Kate Upton, Naturopath at Kamalaya Koh Samui
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Prana (Devanagari: pra-Na) is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘breath’ and is understood as the vital, life-sustaining force of living beings and the vital energy in all natural processes of the universe.