Dietitian, Estée van Lingen, expands on the importance of hydration, especially in summer. Plus, she shares the benefits of H2Glo for people living with diabetes
Summer is here and being well-hydrated is important for everyone, and who doesn’t want that H2Glo?
Benefits of hydration
Water is essential for life as the body consists of about 50 – 60% fluid (about 75% when born, gradually decreasing as you age). It’s a major part of the body and has many functions including transporting nutrients and compounds in blood as well as removing waste products through urine. Water also helps to regulate body temperature through sweating and acts as a lubricant and shock absorber in joints.
Drinking enough water is vital to maintain good health in the short as well as the long-term. In order for your brain (which also mainly consists of water) to function properly, you need to be well-hydrated to be alert and be able to concentrate properly.
Water also prevents constipation as it needs to bind with fibre to make the stools soft. Since the kidneys assist in filtering out waste through water, drinking enough can also reduce the risk of developing urinary tract infections, kidney stones and damage to kidneys which could lead to chronic kidney disease. Frequent dehydration, even if its mild, can lead to damage to the kidneys.
How much do you need to drink?
Drinks provide around 70 – 80% of your water needs. The remaining 20 – 30% comes from foods, such as soup, stews, fruit and vegetables.
Infants need to consume between 640 – 800ml water from fluids per day. Smaller children need to drink between 800 – 1600ml per day depending on their age, gender and activity levels. Adults need to consume between 1500 – 2000ml per day and pregnant and lactating women need to drink even more than that of an adult.
These are average amounts and your individual need will depend on factors like: temperature and humidity, medication consumed and exercise.
Warm and dry environments, such as hot sunny days and air-conditioned offices or strenuous physical exercise, can increase the need for water as they speed up the evaporation of sweat on the skin.
How much water is enough?
Thirst is one way you regulate hydration in the body. But when you drink, you stop feeling thirsty before your body is completely rehydrated. Some people also never feel thirsty as they haven’t been drinking enough water throughout their life.
So, observing the colour of your urine and the smell is a useful way to determine hydration status. Your urine should be a pale straw colour which shows you are well-hydrated. Dark yellow urine as well as strong odour urine means that your urine is very concentrated, and this is often a sign of dehydration, but in a few cases may have other causes. If you are concerned, contact your GP.
Signs of dehydration
- Lack of concentration
- Urinary tract infection (UTI)
It can be hard to spot dehydration. The first thing you’ll notice is increased thirst and a dry sticky mouth. Darker coloured urine is also a good indicator.
Dehydration is a common problem in older people. It can be particularly difficult to detect as signs such as urine colour, thirst and a dry mouth aren’t reliable indicators in older adults.
What types of drinks will help with hydration?
Drinking water is one of the best ways to hydrate as its energy and sugar-free. Other choices, such as unsweetened caffeine-free tea and milk (as well as milk alternatives) also provide fluid to maintain hydration. Any drinks that contain caffeine (coffee and normal tea) as well as alcohol, can’t be counted towards fluid intake as these drinks also have a dehydrating effect on the body.
Some drinks contain added sugar, such as regular, fizzy and still drinks. These should especially be avoided in people living with diabetes as it can cause a rise in blood glucose levels.
Pure vegetable or fruit juices and smoothies also provide fluid and other nutrients but should again be limited in people with diabetes and also assessed before drinking.
H2Glo is a great alternative sparkling water drink to rehydrate with for people living with diabetes as it doesn’t contain any sugar and is also aspartame-free. It’s a nice refreshing drink in these hot South African summers. With a burst of flavour from the edible jelly balls inside, you can have a great-tasting drink without the guilt.
H2Glo comes in seven flavours (Blueberry, Strawberry, Pineapple, Passion fruit, Lemon, Naartjie and Energy) and is also gluten-free and enriched with ozone that can also provide the body with extra oxygen molecules.
Fluid intake in active people
Active people need to drink more water as they lose more in the form of sweat. It’s important that this is replaced to maintain performance and health. Water is the best choice during and after most activities, but those who participate in regular strenuous physical activity may need to consume sports drinks or drinks containing electrolytes.
Top tips for staying hydrated this summer
- Keep hydrated by drinking small amounts frequently.
- Find the best way to motivate you to consume more water. For example, keep a bottle or jug of water on your desk as a reminder, or drink a glass of water at specific times: when you wake up, with each meal and before every cup of coffee.
- Remind children and older adults to drink regularly and also keep a bottle of water close by for them.
- Increase water intake during hot weather or when you are exercising.
- Fluid is particularly important if you’re unwell (especially with vomiting, diarrhoea or fever) as all of these conditions can also lead to dehydration especially in children.
- Foods high in water, such as fruit and vegetables, can also contribute to hydration but fruit and starchy vegetables, should be taken with caution in people with diabetes.
MEET THE EXPERT
Estée van Lingen is a registered dietitian practicing in Randburg and Fourways, Gauteng. She has been in private practice since 2014 and is registered with the HPCSA as well as ADSA and served on the ADSA Gauteng South Committee for 2020 – 2022.
Header image by FreePik