Staying hydrated for optimal immunity
Eating well and staying hydrated is important throughout the year, but even more so during the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In this article, Registered Dietitian Harriet Smith explains why it’s important to keep up your fluid intake for optimal immunity.
How water contributes to optimal immune function
The kidneys and liver are two important organs for overall health.
Our kidneys clear toxins and other substances from the body, removing them as waste products in the urine. This helps limit inflammation, a risk factor for disease, and avoids unnecessary activation of the immune system.
Similarly, the liver is also responsible for detecting and removing toxins, bacteria, and viruses from the body. These organs require an adequate supply of water to function optimally.
Dehydration can put unnecessary strain on our organs, leading to damage, which may impact on immune function.
How much water should I be drinking?
The amount of water that you should be drinking is highly individual and depends on lots of different factors.
Some of these factors include:
- Physical activity levels
As a rule-of-thumb, most healthy adults should be aiming to drink around two litres of fluids per day (around 6 to 8 glasses). However, if you’re doing lots of exercising or if you’re living in a warm environment, you may need to drink more.
If you’re unfortunate enough to get sick, you may have higher fluids requirements than normal. For example, people with a fever or diarrhea may need to drink more to replace lost fluids.
How do I know if I’m drinking enough?
It’s important to monitor your hydration status to ensure that you’re drinking enough.
Here are some things to consider:
- Thirst: if you’re feeling thirsty, it’s a sign that you’re already dehydrated and you need to drink more.
- Urine colour: aim for a pale, yellow straw colour during the day. The darker the colour of urine, the more dehydrated you are.
- Headaches: if you have a persistent headache, you might not be drinking enough.
- Confusion and tiredness: these are common signs of dehydration and may indicate you need to drink more.
What should I be drinking?
Ideally, we should try to choose healthy, low-sugar drinks such as water, tea, and coffee.
Tap water is one of the healthiest and easiest choices. You could consider using a water filter to remove impurities such as heavy metals and microplastics, which may have implications for our health.
Doulton Water has a range of static and portable filtration systems that can support you in meeting your daily hydration needs. A Doulton® TASTE water filter bottle is an ideal way for you and your family to enjoy clean and tasty drinking water when you’re on the go.
Other healthy and hydrating drinks include:
- Herbal teas
- Sugar-free squash
- Tea and coffee
- Milk and non-dairy alternatives
- Small amounts of fruit juice or smoothies (150 ml per day maximum)
You might be surprised to learn that hydrating foods such as yoghurts, jelly, soups, stews and fruits and vegetables (i.e. watermelon and cucumber) can also contribute towards your daily fluid intake.
How can I remember to stay hydrated?
Due to coronavirus, many of us are spending more time at home. Whilst this may be frustrating for many, a new routine is an ideal opportunity to develop new, healthy habits.
Here are some top tips to help you to prioritise healthy hydration:
- Set regular alerts on your phone to remind you to drink more
- Drink one glass of water before you eat anything (snacks and meals included)
- Keep a jug of (filtered) tap water in the fridge for easy access
- Keep a Doulton® TASTE water filter bottle at your work station/desk to remind you to drink regularly
- Create a hydration tick chart for the family and pin it on your fridge – place a tick on the chart for each glass of fluid consumed. Aim to 6 to 8 ticks per day.
- Include a hydrating food (i.e. lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, berries, yoghurt, milk) with every meal
- Create a hydration station for children where they can prepare their own healthy drinks. Offer them ice cubes, frozen berries, herbs (i.e. mint) and straws to make it fun.
Will certain drinks ‘boost’ my immunity?
You may have seen claims that certain drinks can ‘boost’ your immunity.
There’s no scientific evidence to suggest that consuming additional vitamins and minerals in the form of supplements or drinks will increase immunity. You can get everything you need from eating a balanced and varied diet and staying adequately hydrated.
It’s important to reiterate that, whilst important, drinking water and staying adequately hydrated alone won’t prevent you from contracting coronavirus. Remember to follow government and public health advice and keep washing your hands regularly.
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