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Preventing dehydration: Nutrition and Hydration Week

Nutrition and Hydration Week runs this week, focusing on the importance of staying hydrated and eating the right foods to keep your body running smoothly.

Many people know that hydration is important, but do you really know how to stay properly hydrated throughout the day and what happens when you are dehydrated?

Dehydration has a number of symptoms, usually beginning with a dry mouth and headache, it can then develop into inability to concentrate, dizziness, muscle aches and even unconsciousness. Dehydration of as little as 1-2% can affect cognitive ability by 25%.

On average a human adult is composed of 60% water, which sustains the functioning of the human body and is crucial to overall health. In addition to helping your brain work, water also helps you to breathe, digest food, move your joints and helps your heart to pump blood around your body.

 Tips for preventing dehydration

  • Adult females should consume around 1.6 litres of water a day, and adult males should consume 2 litres. This is on top of the liquid you get from eating.
  • Starting each day with a glass of water is a great way to replace fluids lost overnight.
  • Filling up a bottle with water will allow you to keep a track on how much you’ve drank throughout the day.
  • Water can often be a little bland on its own. Add a squash or water enhancer to make it more enjoyable.

Does it matter which drinks you choose?
When you choose your drinks it is important to be aware that although they all provide water and some also contain essential vitamins and minerals, they may also provide energy (calories). These calories contribute to your daily calorie intake in the same way as those from the foods you eat.

  • Water delivers fluid without adding calories or potentially damaging teeth. The British Nutrition Foundation gives guidelines for the types of fluid to drink, and water is the only fluid which they recommend drinking “plenty of”.
  • Tea or coffee also delivers water, and even though these drinks can contain caffeine, in small amounts caffeine doesn’t affect Other hot drinks such as herbal teas, hot chocolates and malted drinks can provide water. If these drinks are sweetened with sugar it increases their calorie content.
  • Milk contains lots of essential nutrients such as protein, B vitamins and calcium, as well as being a source of water. However, it can also contain saturated fat and so it’s a good idea for adults to choose semi-skimmed or skimmed milks.
  • Fruit juices and smoothies give you water plus some vitamins, minerals and natural plant substances from the fruit. Smoothies may also contain pureed fruit, which adds fibre. These drinks can also count towards your 5-A-DAY. One 150ml glass of fruit juice counts as one portion, and smoothies that contain at least 150ml of fruit juice and 80g crushed/pulped fruit count as two portions. Because fruit juices and smoothies contain sugar (and therefore calories) and can be acidic, they can potentially harm teeth.
  • Soft drinks are a source of water but, if they contain sugar, this adds to your calorie intake. It’s a good idea to limit consumption of standard sugar-containing soft drinks and to choose lower sugar or sugar-free versions instead.
  • Alcoholic drinks with a high alcohol content, such as wines and spirits, are not the best choice to stay hydrated. Normal strength beers, lagers and ciders also cause an increased loss of water as urine. However, because they are more dilute, drinking them causes a net gain in water overall. It is still important to keep alcohol consumption within the recommended limits.
  • Food– it may be a surprise to learn that we get on average 20% of our total water intake from food! Some foods have a high water content, especially fruits and vegetables, which are usually more than 80% water. Foods like soups and stews, which have lots of water added during preparation are also a source of water. Food can provide extra water, on top of the 6-8 glasses of fluid you should drink a day. Eating 2-3 servings of fruit or veg can provide your body with the minerals it needs to help your body absorb and use water properly.

Why hydrate with water when you can have squash?

By drinking low-calorie, no added sugar squash, you can get all the benefits of drinking water, but with added flavour.

Our key supplier Squash Stix provide single portion sticks of liquid squash concentrate that can be added to water to increase rehydration.  Squash Stix provide an easier and more exciting option to traditional drinks, and come in two great flavours, apple and blackcurrant or orange. Simply tear open the top of the stick and pour your chosen flavour of squash into the water.

With no artificial colours or flavourings and no added sugar or aspartame, Squash Stix are an ideal way to jazz up plain water, even whilst on the go.

Nutrition and Hydration week is an annual awareness week that aims to promote good hydration and nutrition practices, particularly in health and social care settings.

For more information on Nutrition and Hydration Week you can visit: http://nutritionandhydrationweek.co.uk/

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