Enjoy the great outdoors but don’t forget to hydrate and rest– often overlooked helpers of your mental health | Living Healthy List

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Enjoy the great outdoors but don’t forget to hydrate and rest– often overlooked helpers of your mental health

Health

Summer!! The time of the year when you want to be outside all the time! And that’s great, go for it, enjoy nature and the warmer days. But don’t forget your water bottle…  Your sense of thirst is unreliable – by the time you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated. And even though tea and coffee count towards your fluid intake, water is still the best way to hydrate your body and brain.

Water is not only important when you enjoy being outdoors in warmer weather or when you exercise. If you don’t drink enough, your brain function will be compromised, your mood can be affected, and you may even develop headaches. Once you are dehydrated, several body functions will suffer and organs perform less efficiently: you may feel lethargic or dizzy, you may have difficulties to concentrate and focus, your internal body temperature can be disturbed.

Having said that, your body is – as usual – really clever! It can cope with short term dehydration by changing the concentration of salts in your blood.

A hormone (it’s called ADH – anti-diuretic hormone) is being released and your kidneys draw water back into the blood to balance the salt concentration until you drink again. But only because you have a clever body that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t drink!

As a rule of thumb, try to drink 1.5 – 2 ltrs of water per day, more if you are exercising. Have a bottle of water on your desk or kitchen counter and whenever you walk past, have a sip. Your body and brain will thank you!

It seems to me that a lack of sleep has become some sort of badge of honour these days. Most people feel best after 7-8hrs of sleep but many of us don’t sleep enough. Your body and brain are resting when you sleep and this rest is crucial for your wellbeing. A lack of sleep can suppress your immune system and increase mood disorders, it’s linked to gaining weight, too!

If you struggle with your sleep, stop drinking tea or coffee after 14:00; try to keep a sleep-wake pattern during the week and the weekend; eat a lighter dinner and reduce your alcohol intake as it disrupts deep sleep.

Your diet plays a big role in your energy levels and sleep. A few simple steps will make a big difference:

  • reduce your sugar intake
  • opt for whole grains rather than white flour in baked goods
  • eat more protein – lean meat, fatty fish or choose plant protein in nuts, lentils, quinoa, beans and other pulses
  • Eat a lighter meal at Dinnertime

Avoid the foods that slow you down: fizzy drinks, refined vegetable oils in margarine, salad dressings or mayonnaise; low-quality dairy and animal products. Here’s to your health!

 

Carola Becker, Head of Nutrition www.carolabecker.com

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