What does nutrition and hydration really mean?
Nutrition focuses on how diseases, conditions, and problems can be caused by dietary factors (food intolerances/allergies, poor diet) and how they can be prevented or reduced with a healthy diet.
A nutrient is a component of food, such as protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamin, mineral, fibre, and water. Macronutrients are nutrients required in large quantities, whereas micronutrients are only needed in small quantities.
Life cannot exist without water; it can be a cure for many ailments such as headaches,
fatigue, and joint pain, to name some. Water plays a vital role in almost every bodily function, from flushing out waste, regulating body temperature and helping brain function. Water makes up nearly 85% of your brain, about 80% of your blood and about 70% of your lean muscle. We can go for weeks without food, but only 3 days without water!
Facts that you may not know:
- Men have higher body content that women
- Body water content declines with age to roughly 5% in the elderly
- During a 3-hour flight, you can lose up to 1.5 litres of body water!
What are the signs of poor nutrition and hydration?
An unbalanced diet with poor nutrition can lead to an individual becoming malnourished. Some signs of malnutrition include a weakened immune system, unexplained fatigue, changes to skin,hair and nails, and bloating, persistent gas and constipation or diarrhoea.
We are constantly losing water throughout the day through urine, sweat and in our breath; to ensure the body is fully hydrated, we should drink plenty of water. Even an inadequate drop (as little as 2% in body water) can have major effects on not only our health but also performance.
Symptoms of dehydration are headaches, short-term memory, changes in mood, muscle cramping, fatigue, dry skin, brittle hair, impaired immunity, poor oral health, and constipation.
Is there a connection between gut health, nutrition & hydration?
It is very easy to forget about our gut microbiome with everything going on, but not eating right can heavily impact our important, friendly bacteria.
A diet high in sugar, processed foods and lack of vegetables, which is repetitive can starve out the bacteria we need and we start to feed the unfriendly bacteria.
Water is essential for digestion, nutrient absorption and chemical reactions. One of the main components of saliva, required for breaking down solid food and keeping your mouth healthy.
The carbohydrates and proteins that our bodies use as food are metabolised and transported by water in the bloodstream.
Detoxification is vital for removing unwanted substances from the body via sweat, urine and bowel movements; water helps remove toxins from the body. Your body needs to have enough water in your system to have healthy stools and avoid constipation. Kidneys are important for filtering out waste through urination. Adequate water intake helps your kidneys work efficiently.
How to maintain good nutrition and hydration
As Michael Pollan would say ‘eat real food!’ Processed foods (sugar, refined carbs, industrial vegetable oils, packaged goods) are not good for you. Processed food does not have the nutrient density of real foods, it is designed for you to overeat by causing leptin resistance disrupting your brain’s ability to maintain appetite and weight control. These foods are known to spike insulin levels resulting in insulin resistance and alters the gut microbiome and promotes inflammation.
Eat more greens; whether it’s spinach, kale, swiss chard, arugula, broccoli or bok choy, these vitamin and antioxidant dense foods will provide your body with the essential nutrients.
Consuming ‘good’ fats can help enhance mood, improve cognitive function, improve bone health and decrease your risk of disease. Good healthy fat sources are avocado, eggs, olive oil, coconut oil, fish and nut butters.
Increase your fibre intake. Fibre is a macronutrient that does not provide energy, but is still important to have in the diet. Fibre is a crucial fuel for friendly gut bacteria as it feeds the bacteria. Additionally, it helps to keep things moving along our digestive tract ready to be eliminated as waste. Good sources include flax seed, beans, raspberries, almonds, and kale.
The general advice on hydration is to drink between 6-8 glasses of water a day. Caffeinated beverages may be a concern because caffeine acts as a diuretic and can cause increased urination. Caffeine is found in coffee, teas, and many soft drinks. Try to drink caffeinated beverages in moderation and focus on consuming more water.
To ensure you get the right amount of water, check out some tips below that will help:
- Keep a bottle of water on your desk at work, or fill a jug of water to drink during the day at home.
- Eat foods that have higher water content like cucumber, watermelon, lettuce, celery, grapes, oranges, tomatoes.
- If drinking water becomes boring, try some variety like spa water or herbal and fruit teas.
- Either add a squeeze of lemon or lime to your water or add a slice of fruits and herbs to water and leave in a jug or bottle overnight to allow the flavours to infuse into the water.
- Oranges, lemon slices, strawberry and basil, and mint and cucumber make great, refreshing drinks.
- If cold drinks are not your thing, then add apple slices and a cinnamon stick in hot water, or even ginger and lemon!
If you’d like to discuss your gut health, book a consultation with us.