This summer’s hydration bible

6 June 2017 by
First published: 7 June 2017

Make sure you’re ready for anything with this summer’s hydration bible.

As the weather starts to heat up, here’s this summer’s hydration bible.

Water. We all know we need it, but why and how much? Staying hydrated won’t just quench your thirst, every one of our cells is made up of water and the consequences of not getting enough can therefore be felt across your entire body. From physical to mental health, here’s all you need to know about the most important drink in the world.

Why you need to drink up

According to Dr Sally Norton, NHS weight loss consultant surgeon, 85 per cent of the human brain is made up of water, and a loss of just two per cent is enough to reduce your attention, concentration, coordination, memory skills and physical performance. In fact, a survey of 200 women, backed by mental health charity Mind, revealed a staggering 80 per cent felt that drinking more water helped them mentally and emotionally.

Plus, it might hold the key to weight loss. ‘Studies suggest that women who drink more water are likely to weigh less, given that water is calorie-free,’ says Dr Norton. When compared to fizzy drinks and sugar-laden coffees, you could be saving more than 200 calories per day by making the swap. Water can also help with satiety to keep you feeling fuller for longer. ‘Various studies show that drinking half a litre of water increases metabolism by 24-30 per cent for up to 1.5 hours,’ adds nutritionist Christine Bailey. ”Drinking water half an hour before meals can also be effective in reducing your appetite by making you feel fuller so that you consume fewer calories.’

According to Dr. Norton, water also makes up a third of your skin, so your intake can greatly affect how you look. The cheapest beauty fix on the market, sometimes meeting your water quota might be the trick you’re missing if you’re suffering tight skin, fine lines, under eye circles or a sallow complexion. ‘If we’re dehydrated, this will show on the skin, turning it dry, tight and flaky,’ says dermatologist Dr Justine Hextall. ‘So if skin is naturally dry and sensitive, it is particularly important to try and keep as hydrated as possible. Hydration is also important for individuals working long hours in an air conditioned or over-heated office. Equally, if you have a night out of partying, excessive alcohol and little sleep, no amount of moisturiser is going to take away that dull, sunken appearance.’ And if you suffer with any skin conditions, dehydration could be even more detrimental. ‘When skin is inflamed, has eczema or psoriasis, transepidermal water loss is increased,’ explains Dr Hextall. ‘For those with very severe and widespread inflammatory skin conditions, water loss is a real issue and fluid intake should be carefully monitored.’

How to get your fill

The question of ‘how much’ we should be drinking is often greatly debated. The general rule of thumb is eight glasses a day for women and ten for men – or a total of around two litres – but with some outlets purporting the benefits of even more, some experts believe we should be mindful of over-consumption. ‘I think we are often encouraged to drink more water than is actually needed,’ comments Dr Hextall. ‘If we drink several litres of water a day we will just naturally excrete them, excess water will not be diverted to our skin. There is also a myth that it will flush out “toxins”. Removal of unwanted elements by the body is a complex process and unfortunately it is not as simple as flushing large volumes of water through the system. That said, it is important to remain hydrated during the day.’

Nutritionist Christine Bailey agrees. ‘Our bodies are roughly 60 per cent water. Hydration is crucially important for our health. If you exercise, staying hydrated should be even more of a priority. Those that exercise regularly could lose around 5-6 per cent of their water via sweat so it’s important to keep topping up with water during and after your workout.’