As Important as Protein...


Hello again and welcome. This month, I’m thinking about something completely different to protein. It’s no less as important for you though. So, if you don’t mind me asking - how have your bowels been lately?

You’ll soon see why I’m asking…

Are you going to the toilet regularly? Have you been straining and is constipation a problem for you? Is your urine quite smelly and dark, or is it pale and plentiful? How about your skin – is it in good condition, or is it a little dry? Have you been having any dizzy spells, getting headaches, or maybe feeling lethargic and tired?

Yes, you’ve got me – this month I’m thinking all about your fluid intake. With Summer right on us, it’s the perfect time for putting this on your radar for thinking about.

I’m quite sure everyone knows how important an adequate intake of fluid is. For one, it avoids confusing the brain with signals which can make you think you’re hungry when you’re actually thirsty. I’m afraid to think that may lead to snacking between meals.

Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about feelings of dizziness or light-headedness, and this can be avoided in many cases by meeting the guidelines of 2l/d of fluid. That doesn’t need to be achieved with water alone, and actually Including some salty drinks will help the body hold onto the fluid easier than water alone. Rather than peeing it all out, the fluid gets into your cells keeping them nicely hydrated and looking like plums rather than dried up ol’ prunes. 

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Do you struggle with drinking straight water? You’re certainly not alone, so rest assured you can still meet your needs with a little thinking outside of the box. Adding a few drops of sugar-free ‘water drops’ does wonders for some, while adding some freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice works equally as well for others. Likewise, slicing up some cucumber and resting in water can be really refreshing and again make water more drink-able.

Building on that, you can freeze your flavoured water into ice cubes, and pop them into straight water which you can ‘jazz up’ or make sparkling by adding some fizz with your soda stream machine if you own one. These are the gold-standard ideas for increasing your fluid intake, but remember there are many more ideas too…

Cups of coffee and tea can count towards your fluid intake as well. Most of you will know I’m a huge fan of fruit teas as they can be either hot or cold. A cold fruit tea with some soda stream bubble is actually right up my alley. As for coffee, that’s a daily drink for me, but please know that too much coffee (or caffeine) can actually dehydrate you and also lead to some calcium being lost in your urine. In saying that, I can almost hear you thinking– how much is too much coffee and what can I drink instead? That takes me to the ‘Hot Seat’ this month which I hope can give you an answer.

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Drew’s Hot Seat –getting enough fluid each day

Coffee (and Coke Zero) is a diuretic. That means it will make you lose fluid. There’s enough evidence out there to say that when consumed in regular amounts each day, the diuretic effect is quite small – only of course when that regular intake is kept within reason.

A safe maximum each day is about four cups, so if you’re drinking any more, it might be a good time to think about other fluids you could have, or alternating some with decaffeinated drinks. Also, remember coffee, tea and Coke Zero should never be consumed within an hour of taking iron as they will stop the body absorbing that valuable iron. That means it’s time to think about label reading for finding some more alternatives for fluid.

Have you been using your label reading skills lately? Has this helped you spot foods likely to cause dumping because they are high in fat or sugar?  If so, do you think the following is a safe choice?

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What was your answer?

If it was a food, I’d certainly say low risk because the ‘Fat, total’ and ‘sugars’ are less than 10g per 100g. But what if I say that the label is actually for a drink – does your mind change?

I hope so, as label reading guidelines for fluids are different to foods. For all fluids, it’s really important you look to the ‘Fat, total’ and ‘sugars’ per serve instead of per 100g. So, let’s have another look at this drink which is currently being advertised as a great source of protein.

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The jury is out in this case. This is a high-risk fluid for causing dumping. It’s nearly two-times above the guideline of less than 10g sugars per serving. Early dumping can happen within the first half-hour of having foods or fluids, but late-dumping can happen 2-3 hours afterwards.

Symptoms of early dumping include abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, diarrhoea, hot flushes or sweating, heart palpitations and a general desire to go and lie down. Late dumping can cause similar effects as well as weakness, confusion and even fainting. That means your label reading skills are so important – especially when trying to find options for improving your fluid intake over the coming Summer.

The Take Home of This Blogpost

Meeting your daily fluid needs might feel like a real battle. It is do-able, and that’s where your label reading skills can help you find variety while also spotting those fluids with high risk for dumping. Overall, meeting your daily fluid needs will help to avoid effects like constipation which of cause leads to nausea and not wanting to eat the hero of each meal – the protein. I couldn’t resist mentioning our hero as it’s just as important as a good fluid intake.

All the best until next month.