The importance of hydration for the health of our kids
My kids know that if they come to me complaining about a headache, stomachache, itchy dry skin or general grumpiness, my first question is always going to be, “how much water have you had today?”.
In my experience as a health practitioner, if I ask any group of people if they know how important water is for their health, they say yes. If I ask, ‘do you drink enough water in the day?’ almost everyone replies “no,” usually accompanied by downward cast eyes and a guilty expression.
It can be particularly hard to get enough water into kids; partly because they are often on the go and partly because so many beverages are aggressively marketed towards them making plain old water seem, well, boring. As parents, it is easy for us to fall into this trap too. We hear that kids are supposed to have their milk every day, so that counts for a glass or two when they are thirsty and then they want juice and hey, it’s fortified with calcium and they need that right? The number of children that I see in my practice who drink literally no pure water in the average day is just shocking. If they are getting fruit, minerals and hydration in other forms, why is water so important?
The human body is composed of about 70 percent water. Dehydration is one of the most common causes of health problems for Canadians, including everyday complaints such as fatigue, headaches, constipation, lower back pain, weight gain, irritability and depression. Water acts as a delivery system within the body, carrying oxygen and nutrients to each cell while removing wastes. When dehydration occurs, these wastes build up in the cells, weakening the muscles and the immune system. In time, this can result in a disease condition. Since moodiness, digestive disorders and skin conditions are some of the most common concerns parents have about their children; an inexpensive, easy to administer remedy should be considered first!
Getting enough water is also very important for proper brain function. The brain is made up of about 85 percent water. A drop of 1 percent in body water levels is associated with fatigue and the inability to think clearly. Low levels of water in the cells can also trigger depression and mood swings. Keep in mind that beverages containing caffeine, carbonation, or sugar are diuretics. Your body uses more water to process and get rid of these liquids then they provide. While I would argue that pop has no place in anyone’s diet whatsoever, I know that is just not going to fly with some people. The numbers are astounding though – one can of pop per day equals roughly 18 kilograms of added sugar by the end of the year! The next-best alternative to eliminating it would be to make sure that you (and your children) are drinking enough water to process it adequately.
There is no substitute for pure water (I know I’m getting preachy here, but bear with me!). One way to help get water into kids is to let them pick out a bottle that they like, or decorate one with stickers or drawings. They then have the goal of emptying the bottle throughout the day. The sweet fruit juices and vitamin waters are best saved as occasional treats. It’s an easy way to help everyone feel a little better.
Natural Health Practitioner Alexis Costello is proud mommy to eleven-year-old twins and a brand new baby. She wants to help other holistic mamas and kids to be their best in this wild world. To learn more or to make an appointment email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-491-7559
Children’s nutrition; importance of hydration; symptoms of dehydration; kids and pop; how to get kids to drink water
Kid’s health/ family/ nutrition/ water/ brain functioning/ digestive health