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Good Hydration for Good Health

Muscle pain, depression, asthma, bulimia, arthritis and loss of concentration - is there a common cause? Yes, believe some doctors; they are all signs of chronic dehydration.

Around 75 per cent of the body is water, 85 per cent of the brain. Water is essential to growth, transporting blood and oxygen, removing wastes; practically every process of the body takes place in the presence of water.

Even a two per cent loss of body water can result in a 10 per cent reduction in mental and physical performance in adults, 20 per cent in children. Yet surveys have found that around 65 per cent of 5-14 year olds drink less water than they should.

How much water we need depends on body size and activity level; if we eat lots of fruit and vegetables we need less water than if we eat lots of meat and fats. Many of us know that most adults require 6-8 glasses of water daily; when we drink during the day, however, is also important.

A good water regime involves drinking a glass or two on waking, then a glass half an hour before each meal. Avoid drinking too much water with food; it will dilute digestive juices and impede good absorption. Leave an hour or so after a meal before drinking more water.

Remember that caffeine is a diuretic: pair caffeinated drinks with a glass of water, as the Italians do. Foods such as soups, stews and well cooked grains hold fluids in the body for a long time, enabling us to absorb all the fluid we need.

In hot weather or if involved in a heavy exercise programme tissue salts need to be maintained to assist in rehydration. Join the campaign to bring back city water fountains - a cheap, eco-friendly way of keeping ourselves hydrated!

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