This week (March 14th to 18th) is Nutrition and Hydration Week, and North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust is highlighting how poor nutrition and hydration can lead to a deterioration in health and increased hospital admissions.
Nicola Storey, Deputy Head of Nutrition & Dietetics at NCIC, said: “It’s really important people maintain a good diet and stay hydrated, especially those who are being cared for in a hospital or care home.
“The consequences of poor nutrition can include an increased risk of infection, delayed wound healing and decreased muscle strength.”
The theme for this year’s campaign is ‘Making a difference every day’. People being cared for in hospital or a care home may have a reduced appetite and require additional support to eat well with extra snacks and nourishing drinks. Taking the time to understand their likes and dislikes can help.
Nicola added: “For the general population there are plenty of things people can do to maintain a good level of nutrition and hydration, for example, drinking water regularly throughout the day, eating more fresh fruit and vegetables and cutting down on the amount of sugar and salt they eat.”
Medical evidence also shows that good nutrition and hydration can assist in preventing conditions such as pressure ulcers, heart disease, diabetes, and low blood pressure. It is also recognised that it helps to keep you alert and feel generally healthier.
If you’re looking at ways of improving your diet, here are a few things that could help:
- Base your meals on starchy food – starchy food should make up around one third of the food you eat. These include potatoes, cereals, pasta, rice and bread
- Eat plenty of fruit and veg – It’s recommended that we eat at least five portions of different types of fruit and veg a day
- Eat more fish – fish is a good source of protein and contains many vitamins and minerals
- Cut down on saturated fat and sugar – we all need fat in our diet, but it’s important to pay attention to the amount of fat that we’re eating
- Eat less salt – eating too much salt can raise blood pressure, which can lead to people developing heart disease or having a stroke
- Stay active – staying active is an important part of maintaining overall good health
- Be aware of dehydration – we need to drink about 1.6 - 2 litres of fluid every day.
We've come up with some tips to help you stay hydrated:
- Overall, try and drink 8-10 glasses of water a day.
- Start the day with a glass of water.
- If you find it difficult to hydrate on your shift, make sure you start your shift well hydrated and drink more at home.
- It might sound excessive, but if you normally go all day without drinking water, set a reminder on your phone!
- Infuse your water for flavour. Add your favourite fruits and/or herbs, like lemon and mint, to make water a little more interesting.
- Keep track of your drinking through an app like My Water Balance.
- Can you substitute one of your usual cups of tea or coffee for H2O?
- Add time markers. Use markers on your drink bottle to indicate how much you should drink by a certain time. That way, you'll see if you're behind or on track each time you pick up your bottle.
- Follow your body's natural routine. Have a glass as soon as you wake up, each time you use the bathroom, before every meal, and before you go to bed.
- Reward yourself with a new water bottle
Nutrition and Hydration Week is an annual event with a shared objective to highlight, promote and celebrate improvements in the provision of nutrition and hydration locally, nationally and globally.
- To support Nutrition and Hydration Week, people are being asked to make a pledge to raising awareness of the importance of nutrition and hydration as an essential element of care.
- You can find out more about the week and pledge your support at http://nutritionandhydrationweek.co.uk.