Do you feel tired all the time? Do you suffer from frequent headaches? Are you constipated? Or do you have sugar cravings?
If the answer is YES to one, some or all of these, the solution could be simpler than you think. It could be that you are simply not consuming enough water and suffering from dehydration.
One of the main symptoms of dehydration is tiredness or loss of concentration. A recent survey amongst GPs found that many patients coming in complaining of fatigue, were actually dehydrated, with many not realising that they were not drinking enough water - 8 glasses a day for women and 10 glasses a day for men. There is a misconception that you only need to drink when you feel thirsty but by the time you feel thirsty, your body is sending out emergency signals. The best way to combat this is to aim to drink every hour so you don’t feel thirsty. Carry a water bottle and sip water throughout the day.
When you become dehydrated your brain tissue loses water, causing your brain to shrink and pull away from the skull. This triggers the pain receptors surrounding the brain, giving you a headache. Dehydration also causes your blood volume to drop, which in turn lowers the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. So instead of reaching for those painkillers, try drinking a glass of water slowly for the next 30 minutes to see if this takes your headache away. Try drinking the water at room temperature as cold drinks can exacerbate headaches.
Constipation is painful and upsetting for those that experience it and has many causes, including medication and stress but one of the most common is lack of hydration. The food you eat makes its way from your stomach to the large intestines. If you don't have enough water in your body already, the large intestine soaks up water from your food waste making it hard to process and dispel. Water is essential for your digestion as it keeps the food you eat moving along through your intestines whilst also keeping them smooth and flexible.
When you experience cravings, such as for sugar or coffee, it is often your body’s response to lack of hydration and not hunger at all. When your body is dehydrated, you are more likely to suffer cravings. Drinks containing caffeine such as coffee and fizzy drinks are diuretic, which means they encourage your body to urinate more frequently, leaving you open to dehydration. So the first thing to do before grabbing that cake, chocolate bar or coffee, is to ask yourself, am I actually hungry? Pause for a moment, get yourself a glass of water and sip on it slowly for the next 20 minutes. Then ask yourself again, do I still have a strong craving? You should find that as your body has become more hydrated, those strong urges have gone. If you struggle drinking plain water, try a slice of lemon, ginger or cucumber to flavour the water or try having a herbal tea.
The best way to hydrate, is to sip water constantly through the day and try to avoid large amounts of water with meals. Aim not to drink water 30 minuets either side of a meal as this can dilute gastric juices vital for digestion. You should aim to drink freshly filtered water at room temperature from a glass cup or glass water bottle.
Water is there to be enjoyed and savoured as it is vital to our wellbeing, can improve the condition of our skin and is essential to many of our bodies functions.