The warm British weather is finally upon us. Winter coats, gloves and scarves have all been cast aside as Londoners make their way into the sunlight, emerging from the dark cave of those grey winter months.
As we try to soak up the sun at any available opportunity, we protect our skin with sun screen and eyes with shades — but it is easy to forget to protect our bodies on the inside. Water is really important for the body no matter the weather, helping to circulate nutrients and aiding muscles with our day-to-day activities. When the weather heats up, water leaves our bodies faster through an increase in sweat. Keeping up our own hydration levels at this time helps with concentration and overall body health.
Dehydration is when your body’s water level falls below “normal”, upsetting the balance of the body. Other than hot weather, a couple of other ways that you lose water from your body are through physical exercise (body water removed by sweat) and your diet (an increase in salt and/or sugar causes an imbalance). You may notice that you feel thirsty, tired or have a headache which are common side effects of slight dehydration and can be remedied by drinking more water with food. If you start to feel seriously unwell, experiencing symptoms such as dizziness or very severe headaches, you may need to call NHS 111 service.
Something as simple as water can bring its own set of problems and many of us struggle to put drinking more water into practice. There are not yet any agreed scientific guidelines on how much water to drink, so it is really about monitoring your own intake and gauging how your body feels when you haven’t had enough. The NHS recommends drinking six to eight glasses of water a day. We could argue all day about the size of the cup so I would look at their recommendation as a useful guideline and just try to keep hydrated to suit your body.
A couple of tips to help you drink more:
1. Buy yourself a better bottle
Having a great reusable bottle is definitely an inspiration to drink more water. There are so many companies out there now producing bottles with great colours, patterns and ethics. I recently purchased a reusable canteen that keeps my water cool and is a snazzy bright lime colour. I love to carry it round with me and have it proudly displayed on my desk throughout the day — and because it is always on hand, I find that I am naturally drinking more.
Additionally, there is a huge benefit to the environment when buying reusable bottles — London alone gets through 2 million plastic bottles of water every day. Plastic takes a long time to disintegrate and is the biggest polluter to the world’s rivers and ocean so getting a better bottle is good for both you and the environment, which is pretty great. Make sure you buy a bottle is doesn’t contain BPA, which is bad for your health!
2. Add something to your water to make it tastier
I personally am happy with tap water but many people find it dull and can’t bring themselves to drink more water because they would prefer to drink something (anything) else. A top tip is infusing your water with natural ingredients, making your water tastier and more drinkable. Also chilled water feels more hydrating for the body, so can be easier to drink.
- You will need: dried hibiscus flowers (pick up at wholefoods etc.), water.
- How to: Add two teaspoons of the hibiscus flowers to the cup or your reusable bottle. Boil the kettle and fill the cup. Infuse in the fridge for 2-4 hours. Strain and drink!
- Why not add: Watermelon cubes, once the water has cooled. Leave in for at least an hour before drinking.
The classic infusers
Keep it simple and just add the infusers straight to your bottle and leave for an hour or so: lemon and lime (sharp and clean), strawberries and mint (sweet and summery), cucumber (the ultimate refreshment).
3. Drink water with your meals
There are a variety of great apps out there to monitor your water intake – tap the empty glass every time you drink during the day and the water animation fills up (oh so satisfying).
Whether you are motivated by completing your app targets or find that kind of thing difficult to keep up with, I would encourage you to try and add water into your day as naturally as possible. It isn’t something that you need to force. Start by having a glass of tap water with every meal. You can have other drinks too, but make sure you have that as a minimum and then when that becomes a habit for you, start to add more water to your day.
Water makes up more than half of the human body, so keep up your hydration to aid the natural balance of your body. To summarise, keep an eye on how you are feeling and drink water whenever you feel yourself becoming thirsty. Your body is smart and will let you know when it needs more.
Enjoy the sun and keep hydrated out there!