Water is one of the essential nutrients that we need to support life. It constitutes an enormous percentage of our cells and tissues and plays a key role in terms of health and functioning for most of our organs also.
The NHS’s Eat Well Guidelines recommends drinking 6- 8 glasses (1.5-2 litres) per day and the importance is often overlooked. Bear in mind that no two persons requirements will be the same and can be impacted by a range of factors:
- Environmental temperature
- Body temperature
- Exercise modality, intensity and regularity
- Caffeine intake
- Alcohol consumption
- Salt intake
- Body mass
All of these factors must be considered when determining your hydration. You might consider 6-8 glasses as a minimum guideline and increase intake based upon the factors above.
Don’t worry if you are currently not drinking 6-8 glass per day straight away. As with your exercise regime it’s best to build up to this goal. Even if you increase by 1 extra glass over the course of a week or 2 weeks, you’re improving your hydration status.
Top Tips to Help You Start Keeping Hydrated
- Fill a glass of water first thing in the morning to get you started
- Keep a glass or water bottle beside you at your desk / in your car to sip on throughout the day.
- If you’re training – aim to take an extra glass of water to help recover and keep hydrated.
- If it’s hot outside, same as above – aim for an extra glass to keep hydrated.
- Add a small dash of low sugar cordial to flavour your water
- Instead of tea or coffee in the afternoon why not try a hot cordial – especially coming into the winter months.
When considering hydration, refuelling and recovery where exercise is concerned, we also need to consider sports or electrolyte drinks.
A tough workout, class, run, cycle or even a swim can leave us feeling dehydrated – what many of us don’t realise is that this can be caused by the loss of electrolytes which leave our bodies when we sweat, especially over long periods of time.
What Are Electrolytes?
Electrolytes are crucial in helping us to feel and perform our best. However, many of us are pretty clueless when it comes to what they are, and what they do. In fact, many of us don’t even know that they exist!
Simply put, electrolytes are small and charged particles that our body needs for optimum health. They’re found in our food and drink, and there are many different electrolytes which are all used for different functions.
Potassium, magnesium, calcium, sodium, phosphate and chloride are some of our body’s key electrolytes.
What Do Electrolytes Do?
In a nutshell, we need electrolytes for all sorts of things! They are essential in keeping our bodies as healthy and as happy as can be.
For starters, they help our bodies to balance fluid levels and maintain hydration. This is because the way in which sodium and potassium moves in and out of cells dictates how much our body holds on to water, and how much it flushes out.
Since electrolytes have an electrical charge, our nerve cells also need them to carry electrical impulses around the body. Not only does this help our nervous system to thrive, but it also supports muscle function (it tells our muscles when to relax and when to contract) and keeps our brains strong and our minds focused and clear. Scientists also believe that electrolytes keep our hearts healthy!
If we don’t have enough electrolytes within the body, imbalances can trigger fatigue, muscle cramps or spasms, headaches, dizziness, anxiety and even sleep problems.
Imbalances can be caused by dehydration, intense exercise (this causes us to sweat and lose water and sodium), soaring temperatures, vomiting and diarrhoea, malabsorption of nutrients, and even age – as we get older, our bodies are less able to strike a balance with electrolytes.
Examples of Electrolytes and Their Benefits
Key examples of electrolytes found as ionic minerals include:
Sodium is usually the one electrolyte we are not deficient in, since the typical Western diet is full of salt! However, it’s worth remembering that our bodies need salt, just not in excessive amounts. As an electrolyte, we use sodium to regulate water in the body, telling us how much to keep and how much to flush out. Sodium also triggers electrical impulses, which carry messages to and from the brain, and is crucial in muscle function, energy metabolism, and cardiovascular health. On the flipside, high sodium levels can lead to rocketing blood pressure – we need an electrolyte balance!
Potassium lurks within our cells and works alongside sodium to balance water in the body. We also need it for muscle function, glucose metabolism, and for causing electrical impulses, which our bodies need for nerve signalling. Diets rich in potassium can help the body to counteract the damage done by too much salt, lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of stroke. However, when we eat too little potassium, our blood pressure can soar and we can become at risk of kidney stones.
Magnesium is a bit of a wonder, and can help the body in all kinds of ways! In fact, magnesium activates more than 300 enzyme reactions in the body, meaning it is essential for a healthy body. It can regulate muscle and nerve function, keep blood sugar and blood pressure levels balanced and healthy, and even help the body to make protein, bone, and DNA. Magnesium is also needed for better sleep and relaxation, regulating our mood, and energy metabolism. When we don’t consume enough magnesium, we can suffer with muscle cramps, fatigue, PMS and bad moods. You can find it in our H30 Hydration supplement.
Calcium is known by most of us for its work in building strong bones and teeth (when we don’t eat enough calcium, we are at risk of Osteoporosis), but it also helps with muscle repair and muscle contractions, including in the heart.
Chloride also helps us to keep a healthy fluid balance in the cells, helping water to travel in and out of cells. It also enables our bodies to maintain a healthy pH balance.
Reach Your Peak Workout Potential with Aura Hydrate from Aura Leisure
Aura Hydrate products contain most of these key electrolytes to keep you hydrated through the day and especially through your workouts with a breakdown of Aura Hydrate’s orange flavour below as an example.
|Vitamins and Minerals||Per 100g||%RI||Per 6g serving||%RI*|
|Vitamin C (mg)||667||833%||40||50%|