When drinking water is not enough - how to maintain the right level of hydration for the best performance

Our body is made up of 60% water on average and it is therefore important to keep it well hydrated. Maintaining an adequate level of hydration throughout the day is a good rule of thumb for the basic rules of wellness, which applies to everyday life as much as to physical activity.

When practicing sports, it is necessary to provide the body with the right level of water and mineral salts, which we normally disperse during sports performances. Just think that a 2% drop in water in the human body can lower the level of cognitive and physical performance by more than 30%.

We have always thought that it was enough to remember to drink a certain amount of water during the day, not only according to our needs, but (also) with respect to individual needs, but it doesn’t necessarily works like that.

To achieve our daily hydration goal, technology can help us in many ways: there are apps that tell us when to drink so that, throughout the day, we can bring the right amount of fluids to the body. However, there are also high-tech solutions that go much further, because it is important to know how much you have to drink, but even more so when: in fact, the right level of hydration is obtained when drinking at the best time.

Technologies to achieve the right level of hydration

Therefore, what are the new technologies to monitor and improve the quality of our daily hydration? In this editorial, we explore some of the segments in which hydration technology is taking its first steps:

Hardware for identifying the level of hydration

There are categories of "endurance" athletes - such as marathon runners, ironmen and triathletes - who must prevent dehydration and thirst with great care. In fact, during endurance competitions lasting hours such as a marathon or a triathlon race, maintaining proper hydration is - along with good training and adequate nutrition before the race - one of the determinants for the athlete's performance.
Today technology comes to their aid: smart patches, made up of strips of filtered paper worked by laser, applied to a transparent plaster and waterproof, easily applicable on the skin and protected from external factors provide an immediate feedback on the level of hydration. The estimate is that the patch can be used from 15 to 90 minutes: thanks to sweating, the paper strips change from blue to red, immediately indicating a lowering of the level of hydration.

On the same philosophy of practicality and immediacy, wearable devices are also being developed: objects similar to heart rate monitors to be applied to arms and calves provide real-time data on hydration.

By analysing the different wavelengths of light reflected or absorbed by the human body these devices are able to state whether the hydration level of an athlete is low, correct or too high.

App and hydration: when your smartphone tells you when to drink

They are not hardware devices, but also (and above all) apps are increasingly improving the quality of our hydration. Apps like Samsung Health, if connected with my wellness app, can provide an accurate balance of your needs based on your daily physical activities.
If you are looking for a more game-friendly solution then a great app that will guarantee you a constant level of hydration is Plant Nanny. This app makes you responsible for maintaining a virtual plant, whose happiness (and vitality) will be proportional to your level of hydration: a great way to teach you to be responsible even in the simplest gestures!

Intelligent water bottles for the hydration of the future

Due to a greater attention to the environment, we see more and more people moving around with water bottles, but some are smarter than others.

Athletes are in fact experimenting with so-called smart bottles: by taking advantage of compatibility with an app or smartwatch, these containers can synchronise with fitness trackers and, thanks to the data they have available, they are able to keep track of consumption to recommend the most suitable time to drink. You can also have complete reports that indicate both the progress of hydration and the nutrients we are taking.

Other water bottles stimulate water consumption using LED lights: fixed lighting indicates how much an athlete has already drunk, while flashing lights accelerate the optimal rhythm to achieve the hydration goals; the device also takes into account any liquid leak. In addition, the athlete's hydration information is also provided to the coach: the wireless mode allows the coach to have the tracking of the intake of liquids and can signal directly to the athlete if there is a need to hydrate more efficiently.
Obviously, these bottles can contain natural water, waters enriched with mineral salts and flavoured waters according to the needs and tastes of the athlete.

Energy drinks - hydration with an extra gear

Inside these smart bottles, the battery is not only used to keep the device connected and updated with the app, it also serves to dispense additives to the water.

In an experiment made by Gatorade, a smart bottle had been customised to contain three small cylinders can be inserted at the base of the bottle, which vaporised vitamins, minerals and natural flavours inside the water, reaching up to 45 different types of flavouring.

It's not just about giving the water a different taste, these additions help to increase hydration, give energy before training, sleep better or accelerate energy recovery.

The addition is very simple: insert the three small cylinders at the base of the bottle, close and click on the button on the container. In a few moments, you can see the aroma appear in the bottle. Further customization is offered by the possibility of individually controlling the delivery of the additions.

Not only hydration

Some of smart bottles have an innovative function not only because of the wireless technology that distinguishes them, but also because of the function they perform. Sports bags are often particularly heavy and bulky because of the equipment and clothing they contain. To reduce weight and volume, a steel-core bottle with a capacity of almost one litre of water was invented. It is covered with high-density foam and can sustain more than 130 kilograms of pressure.
Its function is not only to improve the texture of the container: the water bottle is used as a foam roller, extremely useful in post-workout activities, so that the muscles can benefit from the bottle in terms of both hydration and stretching.

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