You are what you drink. Hydration is essential for life. We can go for weeks without food but only days without water. According to USGS, “Up to 60% of the human adult body is water: the brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and even the bones are watery: 31%.”
But did you know that as we age, we tend to lose hydration? By some estimates, our water composition can drop to 50% or lower as we get older. Along with that, our sensation for thirst also decreases as we age, making it harder to monitor and stay on top of our hydration needs.
That’s why it’s even more important to maintain healthy hydration as we age; we need to drink more water to compensate for changes in our body temperature regulation, so we don’t overheat. Likewise, it’s not just about our water intake (we’ve all known about drinking 8 glasses of water a day!), but also maintaining hydrated skin and hair.
Why is hydration so important for healthy ageing?
Hydration is essential to prevent illness, as water helps your body flush out toxins and bacteria. Blood, which supplies cells with oxygen, is made up mostly of water and it helps your body regulate its temperature. Water also helps you maintain your energy levels, lubricates joints, and improves cognitive function; when you’re dehydrated, you can have noticeable performance and memory issues. A recent study shows that after just a couple of hours of dehydration, people showed cognitive decline and physical function.
And if you’ve ever had a painful kidney stone (I have), water is one of the best ways to avoid getting another, not to mention keep your bowels regulated and avoid constipation. Hydration helps prevent cavities and tooth decay (water helps produce saliva which protects your mouth). When you’re dehydrated, you’re also more prone to headaches and dehydration can even trigger a migraine. Hydration can even help with weight loss — making you feel fuller and reducing calories as well as help with hangovers (alcohol is a diuretic).
There’s no question that water is vital for our wellbeing. And the right amount of water and hydration is key. If you’re not sure about your hydration levels, your urine is a good guide. Healthy and hydrated pee should look light, according to Cleveland Clinic, it should fall somewhere between colourless and the colour of light straw/honey. When you’re dehydrated, your urine will be darker and can look dark yellow or amber. You can lose moisture through urination, breathing, sweating, and even digestion, so the key is to balance out the water loss with the right amount of water intake.
H2-no! Not all liquids are created equal
Drinking water is by far the easiest and best way to keep your body hydrated. ‘Smart’ water bottles can even help you monitor your water intake so it’s even easier to keep track. Avoid soft drinks and sugar-laced drinks or juices as many can actually add stress to your body and strip it of its mineral supply. If you really need some flavor, add some fresh mint, fruit or herbs, tea, or even bone broth. Keep your water bottle with you so that you can make sure you’re ingesting enough water each day and it becomes part of your routine.
Your diet can also play a big part in keeping hydrated. We get approximately 20% of our hydration from foods, the other 80% from water. Eating foods that have high moisture content like avocados, watermelon, lettuce, broccoli or zucchini can be beneficial to your whole body.
In fact, you can’t really go wrong with most fruits and vegetables. High moisture foods are also more satisfying calories, meaning you’ll feel fuller sooner, not to mention the additional healthy minerals and vitamins you’ll be taking in.
Hydration for healthy skin
How to hydrate your skin and hair? As the largest organ, your skin can certainly show signs of dehydration and dryness which can become more pronounced as we age. Factors like sun damage, loss of natural oils in your skin, and decreased collagen and cell renewal can all contribute to your skin feeling drier as you age. Properly hydrated skin looks healthy, has an even skin tone, no flakes and bounces back when touched.
There are plenty of ‘clean’ moisturisers on the market that will enhance your skin’s natural barrier. Resist drying yourself off completely after you shower; leaving a little bit of moisture on the skin after you shower can actually help lock in the moisture from your skincare. And even though a long hot steamy shower can be relaxing (and sometimes necessary), long showers can actually have a negative effect on your skin’s hydration, stripping your skin of essential oils.
Avoid using skincare products that contain ingredients like alcohol, parabens, phthalates, or sulfates which can irritate your skin or cause allergies. And importantly, don’t forget the sunscreen every day (even when it’s cloudy). There’s nothing worse than a sunburn to add years of damage to your skin.
Hydration for healthy hair
Your hair also needs hydration year-round. Hair becomes more brittle, and thins, as we age, but hydration can be a great defense against both breakage and hair loss. Hydrated hair is more pliable, flexible, and robust. Use hair care products made with natural ingredients that won’t strip or dry out hair, but rather, provide natural hydration without leaving hair feeling greasy or flat.
Like with skincare, you want to avoid sulfates, parabens, or phthalates in your haircare products. The idea of squeaky clean hair is actually completely wrong. When your hair is squeaky clean, that means that the detergent in your shampoo has stripped it of its essential oils.
MASAMI, my own brand (yes it’s available in Australia!), provides botanical hydration without weighing hair down and without any bad ingredients. And if your hair is well hydrated, it won’t need shampooing so often and will look healthy in between washes.
If you’ve noticed that it takes more to satisfy your thirst as you age, you’re not wrong. Your body genuinely needs more hydration and it’s telling you. But don’t stop there. Take time to practice hydration self-care for your whole body, every day. Your skin and hair will thank you for it, and you’ll feel fresher and more revitalised.
Hydration is a simple yet vital part of your holistic health. As we say at MASAMI, “hydration is life.”