How many glasses of water have you drank today? Have you eaten your five a day? This week the government are asking questions and calling on people to pay attention to their fluid intake and diet, as part of National Nutritional and Hydration Week (NHW).
There’s no doubt about it; diets are always a hot topic in the media but NHW is aiming to generate awareness about a serious issue that is becoming more prevalent in the UK. While nutrition and hydration are equally important throughout all stages of our lives, the national campaign aims to raise awareness regarding the diets of people that aren’t in control of their own nutrition, such as older adults and people being cared for in hospitals.
Unfortunately, vulnerable adults sometimes don’t receive the highest quality nutrition or are left for long periods of time without being given any fluids. Although this often isn’t anybody’s fault, the government hopes that with proper education, this issue will be resolved and carers will act more vigilantly and look for the signs of dehydration and malnutrition.
Fuel your body
Getting enough fluids and the right nutrients is important for anyone at any age. National Nutrition and Hydration Week highlights the fact that we need to think about what we consume as fuel for our bodies to run on.
Imagine you have an expensive sports car, you wouldn’t fill it with the cheapest petrol would you? Of course not, you would look after it and fill it with premium fuel because it means so much to you. Your body should be no different. In fact it is much more important than a sports car because it truly is priceless. The next time you prepare a meal, stop and take the time to think about what you are fueling your body with and how it will affect you. If you are eating a lot of foods that do not provide nutrients, protein or vitamins then ask yourself how these are benefitting your body.
Additionally, we also need to ensure that we are feeding ourselves enough. Often, when people are trying to lose weight they stick to low calorie diets. While this may trigger weight loss initially, after a few weeks your body will try and conserve extra calories and you will end up storing more fat. Your body is essentially an engine which you need to fuel with the right amount of calories to keep it going and burning fat.
For years, we have been told what we should and should not eat, which are the best diets and which foods will make us healthier. However, there has arguably been less emphasis on the fluids that we consume.
The European Food Safety Authority recommends that in order to stay healthy and keep yourself hydrated, we should consume around two litres of water a day. This is the equivalent of around 10 200 ml glasses of water a day.
Apart from being naturally calorie free and so easily accessible for us to drink, water has many other benefits. When you exercise, your muscles can lose fluids and electrolytes which can make them shrivel and feel fatigued. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day and during exercise can replace the fluids lost, therefore re-energising your muscles.
Fluids also help eliminate toxins by pushing them out of the body, the main toxin our bodies produce is called urea blood nitrogen, which is passed through the kidneys and excreted through urine. By drinking plenty of water you are allowing more toxins to pass through your kidneys and leave through urine. While it might not be the most glamourous of reassurances that everything is ticking over, if your urine is colourless, odour free and flows regularly then you are properly hydrated and drinking the right amount of H20.
Water can also boost your skin’s appearance too, as skin primarily consists of water and functions as a protective barrier to prevent fluid loss. Dehydrated skin appears more dry and wrinkled, therefore proper hydration provides a more youthful look.
Boycott soft drinks
While we are all aware that fizzy drinks are bad for us, as they contain huge quantities of sugar and are very high in calories, it doesn’t seem to be affecting our relationship with them. In 2013, the UK consumed 14,520 litres of soft drinks, according to data from the British Soft Drinks Association.
Even diet versions of fizzy drinks should be avoided, as they often contain high levels of preservatives and unnatural sweeteners so they can claim to be sugar free. If you regularly drink fizzy beverages, take the challenge and try to swap them for water for just a couple of weeks and see whether you feel better for it.
The smoothie revolution
If you’ve been anywhere near social media in the last few months you will have most likely noticed an influx of images of multi-coloured sludge in bottles dominating your timelines, otherwise known as the smoothie.
Although they don’t always look appealing, smoothies are fantastic as they allow you to cram huge quantities of vitamins and nutrients into a small amount of juice. Combining vegetables and fruits together in a smoothie can sometimes be the easiest way to get them into your diet. Getting your daily portion of spinach and kale is easily done by adding them into a fruit smoothie, as they become virtually tasteless when combined with fruit.
While smoothies may be packed full of vitamins, it’s important to remember that they shouldn’t be used as a meal replacement. Issues arise when people skip meals in favour of a smoothie, depriving their bodies of vital proteins and nutrients that can’t be found in fruit and veg alone. By all means enjoy a smoothie, but don’t neglect your main meals in the process.
If you are looking for more in-depth nutritional advice, why not book a free consultation with one of our personal trainers? Not only will they be able to advise you on a personalised fitness plan, they can also provide more detailed advice regarding your nutrition and dietary needs.