Drink up: what this intense heat might be doing to your brain

How to stay hydrated


Life & Style
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With one of Australia's hottest summers revealing itself this year, the need to practice hydration is at an all time high.

With one of Australia's hottest summers revealing itself this year, the need to practice hydration is at an all time high. Whether it’s super-hot or just long days lazing on the beach, it's well known keeping hydrated is good for you.

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According to nutritionist Dr Joanna McMillan, even a 1-2 per cent level of dehydration can affect athletic performance and brain function. 

"Eventually you will reach a level of dehydration where you start to have fuzzy thinking or a headache, and it affects the functioning of your gut, you might find you're more prone to constipation or a sluggish gut".

Most Australians don't recognise common signs of dehydration.  Photo: Stocksy

Most Australians don't recognise common signs of dehydration. Photo: Stocksy

She warns that during the summer season, you should pre-empt alcohol related dehydration. 

"You have to be wary of that fact that alcohol is a diuretic, drinking beers or white wine in the sun in the afternoon will increase your risk of dehydration, so you need to make sure you're drinking plenty of water at the same time as drinking alcohol," saysMcMillian.  

According to research from 2016 only 6 per cent of Australians associate mental impairment and an inability to concentrate with dehydration, despite 56 per cent of Australians experiencing it. 

The study also found that most Australians consider two litres a day satisfactory, however neuroscientist and medical writer Dr Sarah McKay says the amount required is highly individual.

"The amount needed varies, depending on individual factors including age, diet, climate and levels of physical activity. For men aged 19-70 it's actually considerably higher, at around 2.6 litres," she says.

Tips for staying hydrated this summer, according to Dr McMillan:

  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables instead of dry packaged food (such as chips and crackers) 
  • Drink plenty of water 
  • Enjoy vegetable-based juices instead of fruit-based
  • Be cautious of iced teas and coffees - they are often loaded with sugar
  • If you're at the beach or working out in the sun, use electrolyte drinks to assist with hydration
  • Drink water when consuming alcohol 
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