Photo copyright of Emma Cunnis

Staying hydrated

Emma Cunis
Emma Cunis
Photo copyright of Emma Cunnis

Emma Cunis is a Health & Life Coach and Walking & Nature-Connection Guide

As our climate changes, the prediction is for Dartmoor to experience wetter winters and hotter summers. This spring and summer have been no exception with long, hot, sunny days interspersed with just a few days of rain. I love the sun but the moor is so dry that there is a greater risk of wildfires; some of the bogs are incredibly dry, and it’s hard for wildlife, livestock and crops to thrive.

I walked a beautiful route recently around several tors, ancient ruins, and tin mining remains. It was recorded as the hottest day of the year so far but what struck me most was the levels of humidity – 95% according to the forecast. I haven’t experienced levels this high since I lived in Asia.

Some people thrive in humidity, I don’t – I feel tired, lethargic, and it was much more challenging climbing up the tors than it would be usually. Plus I had to divert my route several times to ensure that my little collie stayed cool and hydrated too. I carry water with me, of course, but that wasn’t enough to properly cool her down. She hates swimming but I dipped her (and my t-shirt) into every brook and stream we came across!

Adequate hydration is essential because water makes up approximately 60% of our body weight and is vital to physiological processes. Water is the building block of new cells and is the key nutrient that every cell needs for survival.

For example, water helps to flush waste, mainly through urine. It helps to maintain a healthy body temperature through sweat and breathing when the temperature rises. It helps to keep joints lubricated, and our brains working well.

Water metabolises and transports carbohydrates and proteins from food to nourish our bodies. It protects sensitive tissue and is part of the spine ’shock absorber’ system. And much more besides.
Hydration actually describes the fluid and electrolyte concentration in the human body and is assessed by measuring the ion concentration in the bloodstream.

The best indication of hydration is urine colour – a ‘pale straw colour’ is described as being healthy. But how much is the right amount?

We are constantly losing water through urine and sweat so we need to drink adequate amounts to replace this. Health authorities usually recommend 8 x 8oz glasses a day (2 litres or 1/2 gallon) but, over the years, I’ve come to realise that this should be adjusted based on a few different criteria.

• Fluid needs decrease as we age.
• Increased fluids will be required if we exercise regularly.
• What climate do you live in, and what’s the weather
doing today?
• Pregnant or breast-feeding women will require greater levels
of hydration.
• You will likely need less water if you eat lots of vegetables,
fruit, and soups. Or more if you eat lots of processed foods that
typically have higher sodium levels.
• Caffeine and other things can act as a diuretic so you will need
to drink more water in this case.

If you are curious about the best hydration levels for you, keep a check on this list above. Perhaps you might like to try experimenting until you can maintain ‘pale straw colour’ urine. Or give this online calculator a go:

Stay safe out there. And if all else fails, jump in the copper-gold coloured rivers for a cooling dip!

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