The saying that you are what you eat is often repeated, and there is no denying that the food we eat impacts our health throughout our lives.

Part of our diet also includes what we consume in liquid form, so it can also be said that we are what we drink too.

Not enough fluid intake leads to dehydration. When as little as 1% to 5% of body water is lost, symptoms start to occur, including thirst, vague discomfort, lessened movement, impatience, and increased pulse rate. Health effects of chronic, mild dehydration and poor fluid intake include increased risk of kidney stones and urinary tract cancers, and some colon cancers as well as heart valve disorder and diminished physical and mental performance.

Alcohol

While the short-term impact on exercise of a few drinks is likely only to be reduced energy levels at your next workout, for the 20% of New Zealanders that report a potentially hazardous alcohol consumption pattern, there is likely to be a negative effect on exercise gains and overall health in the medium to long term.

There has been research to indicate a moderate intake of alcohol can have some health benefits, specifically related to a potential lowering of the risk of developing heart disease, stroke or type 2 diabetes

But before you refill your glass, it’s worth noting that these health benefits are gained with low consumption levels. If it’s health benefits you are after it may be worth looking at other interventions that have a higher success rate, including exercise.

Coffee

We all know the awakening benefits of a morning coffee, and as an energy hit mid-afternoon.

Caffeine is a stimulant that acts on the nervous system. Many studies confirm the role caffeine can play on exercise performance, with more positive results seen in endurance exercise over resistance activities. There is incoming evidence that those who don’t regularly consume caffeine experience a larger effect.

Energy drinks

When seeking a quick boost of energy pre-workout, or to just get a kick to aid alertness, many people turn to energy drinks, as they are readily available and well marketed. However, energy drinks, which are generally non-alcoholic beverages containing high levels of caffeine (and often high levels of sugar) aren’t the hydration and energy solution they claim to be.

Cases of negative side effects have been attributed to energy drink consumption related to its high caffeine content, including death and heart issues. There are also longer term side effects related to the high sugar content and its link to dental decay, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

Water

A good part of our body mass is water, and we cannot live very long without it, so it’s no surprise it benefits us when we exercise. While our fluid intake includes other forms of fluid found in food and beverages, the best way to achieve optimal hydration is water.

It’s free, readily available and the best addition to a healthy diet when it comes to hydration.

Information supplied by NZ Register of Exercise Professionals