Person saying no to alcoholic drink

Water stealers to watch out for

Are you drinking plenty of water, but still experiencing the symptoms of dehydration?

The answer might lie in your diet. Did you know that there are certain foods and beverages which can actually cause your body to become more dehydrated? Keep drinking your recommended 6-8 glasses per day, but in the meantime watch out for these water stealers.

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Caffeine

A cup of coffee first thing can feel like a great way to wake up your body for the day ahead. However, the caffeine in coffee acts as a diuretic, which means it encourages you to urinate more. This means your body is losing water, which results in dehydration.

It is not only coffee which has diuretic properties. Other caffeinated beverages such as tea and energy drinks also cause you to lose extra water through urination. Have a glass of tap water with your coffee for optimal hydration benefits, and sip water with meals instead of caffeinated beverages.

Switch teas and coffees for herbal teas such as green tea or mint tea, which are naturally low in caffeine and as hydrating as plain water.

Alcohol

You may have noticed that too much alcohol can cause a dry mouth and headaches. Alcohol in your body slows water reabsorption, as well as making us sweat and pass urine more frequently, depleting your body’s levels of water.

Studies show that if you are already slightly dehydrated, even moderate alcohol consumption can cause a greater reduction in the poor performance and reduced cognitive function associated with drinking alcohol.1

Also, you are less likely to drink plain water whilst drinking alcoholic beverages, which will dehydrate you further. Be sure to never exceed 4 units of alcohol per day, and drink at least a glass of water between every alcoholic drink. Don’t let your units sneak up on you! Bear in mind that a large glass of wine of pint of ABV 5.2% beer each contain 3 units.

A great tip is to choose virgin cocktails on a night out instead of alcohol-laden ones. They still taste delicious but without the dehydrating effects.

Salt

When we have too much salt in our diet, the body retains water. This is because the body draws water out of the cells in our bodies and sends it to the kidneys to deal with the excess salt levels. This leaves us dehydrated. Signs of water retention include bloating and swollen legs and ankles.

Government guidelines recommend that we do not exceed 6g of salt per day.2 To put that into perspective, there is usually upwards of 1g of salt in a single slice of bread.

However, the salt guidelines should be easy to stick to as long as you watch out for hidden salts in food such as tinned soup, frozen meals, takeaways and sauces. Also, cooking at home as much as possible and avoiding convenience and ‘instant’ foods can help you to keep an eye on your salt intake.

Another great tip to cut down on salt is to use spices like turmeric, pepper, cumin and cinnamon instead of salt in your cooking. Also, avoid having table salt on your dinner or lunch table.

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Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care.

Sources


1. [Online] https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/water-drinks.aspx.
2. [Online] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23352231.
https://www.nhs.uk/news/food-and-diet/bread-often-high-in-hidden-salt/

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