Hydration is most important for our body to function optimally. Keeping our fluid levels topped up is critical for our body functions to work normally. Our blood, which carries oxygen and nutrients to the cells and our kidneys that flush out waste are dependent on our hydration. A well-hydrated body also ensures joint mobility, lubrication of our eyes, digestion in top shape and healthy, glowing skin. Fluids also help regulate the body temperature and in a warm climate like ours, this is crucial. Water lost through sweat, urination and exercise needs to be replaced as even a slight drop in hydration levels can lead to serious consequences.
The human body can survive for 3-4 days without hydration. You know you need to tank up when symptoms like headache, lethargy, poor concentration, dry mouth and highly coloured urine is seen.
While water is the best hydration, there are so many other ways of taking in adequate fluids.
How To Keep Body Hydrated:
1. Fruit water
Adding fresh fruits like orange slices, strawberry chunks or lemon rings to your water bottle ups the nutrition quotient by adding all the goodness of the fruit. Vitamin C, antioxidants, flavonoids, minerals loke potassium, help hydrate more completely.
2. Spice up
Adding a spice to flavour your water brings all its health benefits to your drinks. Saunf improves digestion and prevents acidity, Zeera helps with flatulence, Dhania seeds help with hypothyroid symptoms and ajwain helps with overall digestion.
Both cold and warm soup, made with fresh vegetables are a good way to increase the intake of vegetable fibers and stay hydrated. Taken in between meals, it helps control excessive intake of calories while providing essential minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. Soups of tomato and cucumber taste great cold.
4. Vegetable juices
Especially the blended ones, add to hydration along with all the goodness of the vegetable. So, a spinach juice adds antioxidants, Beta carotene along with Vitamin C a, another potent antioxidant. Carrots add Biotin, potassium and vitamin A and beets add potassium, folate, and manganese.
Choices like skimmed milk, chaas, lassi - all add health. While not calorie-free, the nutrients they add to your daily meals are essential. Protein, calcium , polyphenols, phosphorus and when you choose fortified versions, Vitamin D. When fermented to make dahi or yogurt, you also add probiotics that are crucial for gut health.
6. Coffee and tea
These are perfect fluids when taken in moderation. Both add antioxidants. In fact, green tea is proven to add a lot of health to our daily diet. Both green tea and black tea are rich sources of Catechins and Theaflavins respectively. Coffee is a rich source of flavonoids that show strong antioxidant activity.
7. Fresh traditional drinks
Kanji, Bael sherbet, aam panna , sattu, and rice/ ragi kanji are a great way to hydrate. They have been proven to be beneficial for gut health which means better immunity. Rich in antioxidants, these drinks also exhibit a cooling property in our body. The only catch is that one should limit the sugars added.
8. Summer fruits and vegetables
They are full of fluids. Ghiya, tori, tinda are all very high in water content and add fluids to our meals. Fruits like watermelon and melons are 90% water. They may not be "liquids" but these whole fruits and vegetables also hydrate the body.
Sodas and commercial fruit juice, energy drinks are also hydrators but the catch is that they are laden with sugars. High in calories and nutrient-free, sodas are not a good choice for hydrating. Fruit juices that are commercially prepared, also have added sugar and do not add to nutrition. A fresh fruit juice is a better choice to make.
This summer and through the year, think beyond water to hydrate well. As a thumb rule 35 mls - 45 mls/kg per day is the fluid requirement of our body daily; make sure that you drink healthy and choose the right food.
About Rupali DattaRupali Datta is a Clinical Nutritionist and has worked in leading corporate hospitals. She has created and lead teams of professionals to deliver clinical solutions for patients across all medical specialties including critical care. She is a member of the Indian Dietetic Association and Indian Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.