July 28, 2015
Is Your Diet Dehydrating You?
With August just around the corner, we're right in the heat of summer! Temperatures are rising in the Waterloo area. At this time of year, we all need to remind ourselves to stay hydrated.
Our bodies are made up mostly of water, and we can't function properly without enough of it. Dehydration occurs when your body loses more water in a day than it takes in, leaving your cells depleted. We lose water through natural systems like sweat, breath, and urine. High tempetatures, humidity, and physical activity can increase water loss. It's possible to be chronically dehydrated, especially at this time of year! This will leave you tired and vulnerable to migraines, insomia, and poor concentration, among other symptoms.
So, how can you stay hydrated? Drinking water is key, but there are also some foods that, when consumed excessively, can ccontribute to chronic dehydration:
Coffee and caffeinated teas are diuretics. They make you urinate more frequently, speeding up dehydration. These effects are seen when your caffeine intake exceeds 500 milligrams a day (about five cups of coffee). However, if you drink more than two cups a day, you should still drink more water to balance out fluid loss.
Alcohol is also a natural diuretic. A night of drinking will leave you dehydrated (hence your headache the next day!). Alcohol depletes your cells of water, lowering your energy. Try to match each drink with a glass of water to mediate these effects.
Vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet, and they all aid hydration because they are mainly composed of water. Asparagus, though, also contains asparagine, an amino acid with a diuretic effect. Eating asparagus as part of a healthy, varied diet of vegetables is not bad for you, but remember to consider its diuretic affect if you're sick or exposed to high temperatures and humidity. Parsley, celery, and artichokes also have diuretic effects.
The body needs more water to metabolize the naturally occuring nitrogren in protein, so if you follow a high protein diet your cells can become water-depleted. Drink more water to balance this process, especially when eating salty proteins like bacon or ham.
These foods increase the body's fluid loss because water is needed to eliminate extra sodium from the body. Foods to be cautious of include soy sauce, popcorn, sausages, fried food, fast food, canned or frozen meals, condiments, and salad dressings. Eat these things in moderation and with plenty of water, and avoid them in dehydrating conditions like exteme heat.
They may seem refreshing, but drinks with high sugar content can increase your body's water loss. To metabolize extra sugar, your body creates an acidic environment that can impair enzyme function and decrease your body’s water storage capacity. Be especially cautious of sugary sport drinks; they may make you prone to losing extra fluids.
So, how much water should I drink?
- For a healthy individual, at least eight 8 oz glasses of water each day
- Increase water intake during hot weather, illness, exercise, and if eating dehydrating foods
- Always drink when you're thirsty - thirst is a natural sign from the body that your cells are getting depleted
- If you don't enjoy plain water, try flavouring it with citrus or fresh fruit (here are 20 ideas), or keep a batch of decaffeinated iced tea in the fridge!
The Chopra Centre
Claire Casher at 2:12 PM