We are all used to drinking more in the summer months to avoid dehydration. Most of us are also pretty good at carrying water bottles with us to the gym or making sure we have a glass of H2O after a sweaty run. But how diligent are we in staying hydrated when we’re not exercising?
If you’re the type of person who drinks eight glasses of water a day, hats off to you. For the rest of us who carry bottles of water everywhere but never take a real sip, it’s time to put in more effort. This is because a new study has found that good hydration can reduce the long-term risk of heart problems.
Research suggests that drinking enough fluids throughout your life not only keeps your body healthy and functioning, but also reduces the risk of serious heart problems in the future. Published in European Heart Journall, researchers from the National Institutes of Health found that drinking enough water has a similar impact to reducing salt intake on overall heart health.
According to the British Heart Foundation, more than 900,000 people currently live with heart failure (in which the heart cannot pump enough blood around the body) in the UK. And in 2019, coronary heart disease was the biggest killer of all genders worldwide. So, anything that can improve your heart health is really damn important now.
The study evaluated data from more than 15,000 adults between the ages of 45 and 66 over a 25-year period. Scientists looked at people’s serum sodium levels, which rise as fluid levels in the body decrease. They found that even if your sodium levels are within the “normal” range, you may be at risk. Those with levels near the upper limit of “normal” had a 39% increased associated risk of developing heart failure compared to adults with a lower “normal” level. We’re not talking about having severe dehydration or huge blood sodium levels here, but incremental increases.
Drinking a good amount of fluids is essential to help the heart pump blood efficiently, support blood vessel function, and promote circulation. However, the researchers say that many people drink far less than they need to. Women, they say, should drink eight cups of water a day, and men need up to 12.
How to drink more fluids every day
You probably need more fluids if you’re very active and it’s not always obvious when you’re dehydrated. When you feel tired or have a headache, it’s too late. So, here are our tips for increasing your fluid intake.
Remember that teas and coffees matter
When it comes to fluids, it’s not just about water. The NHS states that tea, coffee, sugar-free drinks, and low-fat milk all count towards your eight glasses a day. Just remember that caffeine can be a diuretic, so you don’t want to rely solely on coffee for your fluid intake.
Keep your water bottle on your desk
Instead of letting it rot in your bag all day, drop the water bottle on your desk while you work and try to fill it completely at least twice.
Start the day with a glass of water
Most of us sleep with a glass of water next to us in case we need a sip during the night. When you wake up in the morning, finish that glass or refill it to rehydrate the body after the eight-hour fast.
Make rehydration a priority after exercise
We lose fluids when we exercise and even if you don’t always feel hungry or thirsty after moving, it’s important to replenish the water we lose with sweat.
Habit to accumulate fluid intake
If you tend to forget to drink during the day, build up a habit of drinking water. Drink a full glass of water every time you go to brush your teeth or make a hot drink before each meeting. By fixing your fluid intake on an existing commitment, you will find that it will soon become a habit.