Heat, Hydration, & Digestion
NZ is up for the hottest year on record with the average temp increased by 0.11 degrees Celsius according to NIWA. This is hotter than the previous record in 2016. With rising temperatures comes a need for increased hydration. Yes. Increased. Many people think they are drinking enough fluids, but are they? And are they the right ones?
The amount of water needed to properly remove other fluids like caffeine and alcohol from the body can be over three times more! The need for water cannot be overstated. By the time you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrating. Each of your body’s systems are struggling to cope with their workload, toxins are accumulating, and individual cells are starting to shrink, limiting processes like cognitive function and digestion.
Water is needed to prevent constipation, keep food moving through the colon, and help food break down food in combination with acid and enzymes. Without water the colon will draw fluid from other cells leaving the rest of the body dehydrated. Since that is not enough water for smooth digestion, it will result in hard or painful bowel movements.
This lack of water also causes bloating, only 1-2% dehydration causes bloating. Some people may feel bloated after drinking water, this may be because the body retains water in the gut until hydration of all systems is achieved. Some people find warm or hot water less bloating. Drinking water first thing in the morning can help with moving the lower bowels and promoting regularity.
Additionally the body can confuse hunger and thirst signals. Choosing to hydrate over a snack may result in weight loss when excessive eating needs to be curbed. Drinking water half an hour before meals also promotes a feeling of fullness and aids digestion. This however does not replace a balanced diet. Water also improves acid reflux systems and reduces the chances of stomach ulcers or bad breath by regulating acid and saliva.
A good measurement for adequate hydration is 35ml of water for every kilogram of body weight. So a 70kg person would drink 2.45L (35mlx70kg=2450ml). This may be more or less depending on a person’s age, health, and activity. If you have kidney disease, chronic illness, or exercise a lot consult your health care professional about the correct amount of water and/or electrolytes needed.
Don’t forget the benefits of water and nutrient rich fruits and vegetables in your diet to support digestion. However as the heat increases, our need for water does too. Stay hydrated!