Improve Your Exam Grades With One Simple Solution

Many students could do with a bit of a boost as exam season approaches, no matter their age, intelligence or ability.  It can be a stressful time as they cram for Finals, A Levels, GCSEs and even SATs.  So it stands to reason that any extra help is welcome at what can be one of the most momentous times in any student’s life. 

We can’t wave a magic wand and give everyone a photographic memory, but we do have a (virtually) free tool to give you the best chance of performing to your very best ability on that all important exam day. A tool that is available to every one of us. Water.

Science has proved that our brain function and activity is boosted just by drinking water.  When we think about dehydration, our minds often conjure up images of extreme cases where people are severely starved of water, but in reality dehydration can be swift, albeit initially mild. 

If we are even slightly dehydrated our bodies can develop a number of symptoms that we might confuse with other conditions.  Insufficient water intake can interrupt our memory and ability to focus properly, which can then lead to headaches and fatigue.  This added to irritability, insomnia or problems sleeping and even mild depression may have you thinking that you have a whole heap of stress on your shoulders, when in fact the solution could be a simple as drinking more water in order to correct your levels of hydration.  Of course, there could be elements of stress involved, and these are not to be taken lightly – water is not a cure all.  BUT… it just may help to alleviate some of the symptoms listed above.

Scientific studies have shown that students who are only 1% dehydrated could experience a 5% decrease in their cognitive functions.  If the level of dehydration increases further they may struggle to access their short term memory, and chronic dehydration will cause the brain cells to shrink in both size and mass.

Hydration levels should be at their peak throughout the lead up to exams, and during the exam sitting itself.  Take a water bottle in with you – you’d be surprised at the amount of students who don’t!  You want to give yourself every advantage – sipping water regularly is one of them!

The Benefits of Drinking Water in the Morning

Most of us love a cup of tea or coffee first thing in the morning.  As we wearily get out of bed, we’re almost on autopilot as we trudge to the kitchen, fill the kettle and flick it on to make our first cuppa of the day.

It’s a surprising fact that in some cultures, it’s practice to drink up to half a dozen glasses of water when you wake up, to aid overall wellbeing.  This is perhaps not a practice conducive for those of us that have a long commute into work!  But a good practice nonetheless.  Some of the reasons are as follows:

  • Drinking water balances the lymphatic system of our bodies.  The lymph glands help to strengthen the immune system which will ultimately help fight bugs and infections.
  • Getting a good amount of water into your system early will aid your concentration levels, setting you up for a good day at work.
  • Drinking plenty of water first thing will help purge toxins from the blood. You’ll also benefit from clearer skin.
  • It’ll kick start your metabolism, sometimes increasing it by up to 25%!
  • Drinking water early in the day will help your digestive cycle, and help keep constipation at bay.
  • It’ll rehydrate you after sleep.  Headaches, joint and back pain will be minimised.
  • You’ll have more energy.  Nutrients will absorb more easily with the help of water, making you feel energised and ready to combat the day!

Of course, drinking water throughout the day is always recommended, as hydration is a fundamental part of our overall good health, but getting a couple of glasses in early is just the boost our bodies need to keep us ticking over.  Prevention is always preferable to cure!

Are You Drinking Enough Water? The Pee Test Can Tell You!

Statistics are telling us that some adults (around 7 million of us) are going through the day without a drink of water!  Imagine a whole 24 hours without even a sip of water.  Some don’t even have a glass beside the bed to sip if they wake during the night.

Knowing that our bodies are made up mainly of water, we know that it’s vitally important to stay hydrated.  The problems that arise if we don’t can include headaches and migraines, loss of concentration, water retention and swollen joints, and ultimately damage to our organs, including our skin.

Of course, the easiest indicator that we could be starting to dehydrate is thirst, but there is a ‘visual’ test that we can all take and it’s as easy as A, B, Pee!

Urine is the sterile by-product which flows from the kidneys through the bladder and is excreted via the urethra. It’s nature’s way of flushing our bodies of the toxins and chemicals that could be harmful if left unchecked. Next time you visit the toilet, have a look in the pan when you’ve finished. By rule of thumb, if your urine is dark in colour then the chances are that you’re already dehydrated.  To ensure that hydration is at its peak, then your urine should be pale in colour – the paler the better!  This means that you’re already drinking the correct amount to maintain hydration. But there is such a thing as over hydration, so if your pee is clear then that could be a sign that you’re drinking too much and you should hold back a little.

The safest way to make sure that you’re attaining the correct level of hydration is to drink the recommended 8 glasses per day. If you work in an office environment, suggest installing a water cooler to help reach your quota.  Not every drink has to be water – add some squash if you like.  Tea and coffee are both diuretics, and should still be enjoyed, maybe just in smaller quantities – just top up with some sips of water after each cup.

New Year, New You?

So we’ve entered the New Year in style, we’ve eaten our own bodyweight in chocolate and our credit cards have taken a battering over the festive period and subsequent sales.  For most of us, the only thing that is lighter, is our purse.

The TV and magazines are full of advertising for healthy eating and weight loss plans, and local gyms are falling over themselves to secure those membership numbers that will keep their coffers full for the next year (even though attendance will NEVER be at capacity because, let’s face it, we’ll go for a month or two, and then give up)!

But ask yourself this: do we ever think of those people who actually need to gain weight rather than lose it?  For some, the struggle is real.  In a time where it’s not PC to point out that someone is fat, the same courtesy isn’t often extended to the underweight. And believe it or not, they can struggle with similar kinds of body image issues as the overweight.

But there are ways to safely gain weight – and loading up on sugars and saturated fats isn’t the answer! We’ve picked out some of the heathiest foods and drinks that can help you put on a few pounds steadily and over time.  Here are our top 5!

  1. Homemade smoothies

Making your own smoothie is the sure fire way to make sure all you consume is healthy, and not loaded with added sugar like most of the shop bought varieties.  There are countless recipes online, and you can add protein powders, and swap out dairy for almond or coconut milk.  The more fruit and veg you can pack in the better, and blending in some ice will help to thicken it.

  1. Milk

Full of protein, milk is a natural muscle builder!  Whether you choose dairy, or a nut milk such as almond, you can’t go wrong with a glass of the white stuff!  It’s worth noting that almond milk will give you a vitamin D boost which you won’t get from cow’s milk.

  1. Pulses

Rice is a relatively cheap to buy carb which contains 190 calories in 1 cup.  Nuts and nut butters are also calorie dense and can be added to a variety of dishes and meals and even smoothies! Be careful when selecting nut butters to choose ones with no added sugars or extra oils.

  1. Avocados

Perfect as 1 of your 5-a-day! Avocados are loaded with healthy fats and containing an average of 300 calories per pear, could be a daily staple to help you store up on calories in a healthy way!

  1. Eggs

Although not particularly high in calories, eggs are perfect for building muscle mass.  Packed with proteins and healthy fats, you’ll be hard pushed to find a nutritious alternative.  In the past, eggs were thought to be linked with high cholesterol, but recent studies have proven this to be a myth. Eat as many as you like!

As with all eating plans, it’s really important to keep your organs ticking over by drinking plenty of water to flush out any toxins.  Whatever you choose to eat this New Year, stick to the rule of thumb, and try and drink 8 glasses.

Help To Solve Our Plastics Crisis With A New And Innovative Solution

With plastic being such a hot topic, and the detrimental effect that it is having on our planet at the moment, it’s no wonder that we’re all looking for alternative ways to reuse and recycle our household plastics. Knowing that if we dispose of them in a waste bin, they could end up in landfill or worse still our oceans, we’re all now having to think about how to safely dispose of plastics so that the impact causes no harm to our environment or our wildlife.

Fear not though, because if we all do a little bit to help, the impact could be more positive than we could believe.  There is a new trend sweeping the globe, and it’s so simple everybody can take part.  It’s called Ecobricking. This is where you tightly pack all your waste plastic into empty plastic bottles (using a bamboo or wooden stick to push the waste into the bottle) to a set density. Once packed and weighed these bottles make ‘bricks’ which can be used for building anything from construction to furniture!

Although Ecobricks are a versatile building material, you may not want or need to use them yourself.  There are many ‘drop off’ sites across the country that will take your finished bricks, and either use them for projects they have underway, or share them with partners.

Full instructions and guidelines about how to make and what to include in your Ecobricks can be found on the Ecobricks website along with all the information you need about how the movement started, and tips and ideas about how to use your Ecobricks should you wish to.

Here at Cooleraid, all of our bottles are reused and recycled so we already have our finger on the pulse with regard to the impact discarded plastics have on our ecosystem.  But there are some that still throw away plastics with little regard to how they will affect the future survival of some of our more endangered species, and indeed our environment.

We should all be aware, we should teach our children, and we should do it now before it’s too late.

4 Good Reasons to Drink More Water During Autumn

Sadly, the summer is fading into a dim and distant memory.  The scorching temperatures during those months had us all hot under the collar, and soft drink sales soared to an all-time high.  Our water consumption went up too, as we all needed to hydrate just that little bit more.  But with the temperatures now feeling like they’ve literally plummeted, it can be easy to slip back into old dehydration habits, forgetting to drink because we just don’t feel as thirsty.

Here are 4 good reasons to keep up the fluids during the autumn and heading into winter, and how it can help:

Suppress your Appetite

Drinking a glass of water before each meal will part fill your stomach, making you feel fuller.  Studies have found that regular water drinkers often consume fewer calories, so this is a great tool if you are prone to eating for the sake of it.  Don’t forget – thirst can also be mistaken for hunger, so before you reach for the biscuit tin, glug down a glass and see how you feel after!

Clear your Skin

The easiest (and cheapest!) way to keep your skin healthy and glowing, whatever the season, is to keep it hydrated.  As with all the organs of the body, a healthy intake of water will keep it ticking over at optimum function.  Water will deliver nutrients to your cells, plumping them which will keep your skin firmer.

Boost your Metabolism

Give your metabolism the best kick start by drinking first thing in the morning.  Regular exercise is an obvious way to get things going too, but combining the two will help you burn far more calories than a sedentary lifestyle.  The more water you drink, the more calories you’ll burn.

Reduce Bloating

Bloating can be caused by a number of reasons, one of which is too much salt in the diet.  Your tummy can swell, leaving you feeling lethargic and uncomfortable.  Avoiding dairy can also help, but by far the best way to avoid retaining water is to drink water. Ironic, we know, but it works. Your internal organs will be flushed of toxins and you’ll feel more energised.

Sharpen Up Your Mind!

As the nights are drawing in earlier and earlier, and you’ve had a long and hard day at work, the idea of fitting in some exercise before you call time on your day is less than appealing! Curling up in front of the TV seems much more like your cup of tea. But the simple fact is if we make the effort, we will feel more energised with a positive mind set, as well as giving ourselves a big pat on the back!

Growing evidence has revealed that exercise affects our brains in such a way that it can relieve depression and anxiety whilst keeping our minds active, regardless of age.  Keeping fit will also keep our doctors happy!  The risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes is greatly reduced when we take regular exercise and keep our weight within a healthy range.  However, less emphasis is placed on the effects that a healthy lifestyle has on our brains.  A strange concept considering that our brains are the physical organ that respond to everything we put our bodies through!

In order to protect our cognitive function and help prevent the onset of dementia, a healthy diet and plenty of activity into old age will help.  Great news at a time when we’re generally living longer, but not so good when the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia are closely associated with this longevity.  But the idea that we can do something to help ourselves is very welcome, and this is all down to diet and exercise.

It’s never too late to take up some form of exercise, even if you’ve never done much before.  A brisk walk to get the heart pumping and the limbs toned is a great place to start, and as you build up stamina you could increase this to a gentle jog. If you have the funds, a gym membership is well worth the cash.  Your instructor will give you a thorough induction to assess your fitness levels, and will create an exercise schedule specifically for you, taking into account any existing medical issues you may have.  As with any fitness programme, make sure you take regular trips to the water coolers to drink, in order to keep your body’s organs (the brain being just as important as the others) cleansed and hydrated.  Eating a healthy diet, avoiding processed foods and cutting down on fats, sugars and alcohol will complement your new exercise regime, as will eating water rich foods, and drinking more water.

If there’s one important thing to remember it’s this – ageing is 30% genetics and 70% lifestyle. Making the right choices now will enable us to live life to the full later.  Food for thought if you feel like missing some exercise in favour of laying on the couch!

8 Tips to Drink More Water

As our summer draws to a close and we gear up for autumn, we might all convince ourselves that the weather is going to be cold, and we pack away our summer wardrobes and pull out our comfy woollies and thick socks!  But our extreme weather trends lately see us set for some more warm weather well into October.  It’s really important that we remember to take care of ourselves, and keep up our healthy diet and hydration, so that when the weather does cool down for hibernation season, we’re ready for it!

Below are some tips and reminders about how we can manage our water intake throughout the day, ensuring we reach the magic 2 litres!

  1. Wakey wakey!

When you wake from your night’s sleep, it’s likely that you won’t have taken in any fluids for the last eight hours or so. Have a glass as soon as you get out of bed. It’s a good start!

  1. Replace your Caffeine fix

If you’re like us, the first thing you do when you get to the kitchen in the morning is flick on the kettle to make tea or coffee.  Try hot water with a squeeze of lemon instead – a great detox and calorie free!

  1. Invest in a bottle

Buying a reusable water bottle can be as cheap or expensive as you like.  There are thousands on the market, but all have one function – to get us to drink water. Keeping your bottle topped up and with you at all times will remind you to drink plenty.

  1. Set alarm bells ringing!

If you get really engrossed in your work, or forget what time of day it is, set alarms on your phone every hour or so to remind you to drink. Stretch your legs by walking to the water cooler – you’ll kill two birds with one stone.

  1. Prone to Snacking?

When you’re a bit peckish, it may well be that in reality you’re thirsty. Have some water and wait a few minutes. If you no longer have the hunger pangs, you’ll have your answer!

  1. Refill your body!

When we go for a wee, we’re essentially losing water.  Replenish it every time you go and your internal systems will all be functioning as they should!

  1. Eat as much water as you can

You did read that correctly!  Water rich foods are a great source of hydration, and there are so many to choose from, with fruit and vegetables being at the top of our go to list!

  1. Drink plenty if you want to drink plenty!

Whether you like a social drink now and again, or are a complete party animal, it’s vital to try and match your alcoholic drinks with water. One for one should see your hangover kept to a minimum and will also help flush some of those alcohol toxins from your body more quickly.

Overlooked Benefits of Drinking Water

Did you know that on a normal day (and by normal, we’re not talking about this freakishly hot summer we’re experiencing at present) we can lose almost half a litre of water from our bodies through perspiration (most of that through our feet alone)?  Unless we’re exercising, this perspiration mostly goes unnoticed, as it’s our body’s way of regulating its core temperature, even whilst resting.  But this fluid still needs to be replaced, and more so during or after physical activity (and particularly during this freakishly hot summer we’re experiencing at present!).

As we know, the recommended daily water consumption can vary, based on sex, weight, age and activity level, as well as other factors such as the climate you live in, but the rule of thumb is 2 litres (or 8 glasses) a day.  During the working day, this level of fluid intake can sometimes be difficult to maintain, as for some, it could mean countless trips to the bathroom!

The good news is that we don’t have to ‘down’ that much water quickly.  A cup or bottle on your desk will suffice, sipping at regular intervals, and a lunch consisting of water rich foods will also help to keep your fluid levels up.

As well as common sense basic survival, there are some benefits that are often overlooked when we keep ourselves properly hydrated.  Optimum hydration will:

Increase your Brain Function

If you’re struggling to concentrate, and feeling a little sluggish, don’t reach for the coffee – drink some water instead. Your brain is like a well-oiled machine – keep it hydrated and lubricated and you’ll see an increase in focus, you’ll be more alert and your concentration and productivity will improve.  A dehydrated brain will affect your mood, reduce your cognitive and motor skills, affect your memory and can also make you more sensitive to pain.

Flush Out Those Toxins

Drinking water regularly will help to flush out waste. Your skin will be hydrated and will look clearer, and your internal organs will function at full capacity! Dehydration can lead to tight, dry skin that’s prone to premature ageing, and internally your bowels will struggle, leading to constipation. Also, when we don’t drink enough, infrequent urination can cause urinary tract infections.

Keep Your Weight in Check

Quite often, we think we’re hungry when in fact we just need a drink.  Try it.  A glass of water can fill a gap in your belly, making you feel fuller.  The added benefit is that water can also improve your metabolism.

Give your Immune System a Boost

Staying hydrated is the easiest way to achieve the healthiest immune system. Water will carry oxygen to all the body’s cells resulting in properly functioning systems, whilst flushing away harmful toxins.  Keeping everything ‘flushed through’ lessens the chances of nasty illnesses developing.

Prevent Cramps, Sprains, Aches and Pains!

Water acts as a lubricant to the joints and muscles in our bodies.  Keeping them well hydrated will reduce the chances of muscle cramps and achy joints.  You’ll be more flexible and exercise will see you less sore the next day!  Of course, regular cardio exercise where you sweat more could see a reduction in minerals and electrolytes, and these can be replaced with an isotonic sports drink.

Prevent a Hangover, Naturally!

Too much to drink on a Saturday night can give you the mother of all hangovers the next day.  Reduce the risk by drinking water in between alcoholic drinks, and then a large glass before you go to bed.  You won’t smell so bad the next day either – bad breath is a clear sign of dehydration – whether it’s caused by alcohol consumption or not!

Enjoy the Benefits

Start your day by drinking a glass of water before you eat or drink anything else.  Keep a bottle with you throughout the day to ensure you remember to drink.  You may well have a couple of extra visits to the loo than you’re used to, but your body will function better, your mood will be lifted and overall you’ll be a healthier you.

Whatever environment you work in, a water cooler could be the solution to your drinking water needs.  Your employer has a duty of care to its workers, so if you haven’t already got one, ask. The benefits will be conducive to all!

5 Water Rich Foods to Help Us Stay Hydrated This Summer

Summer has well and truly arrived, and at the time of writing we’ve had a scorcher of a weekend with temperatures just shy of 30 degrees. Hydration as always, is really important particularly with soaring temperatures (which look set to continue for the foreseeable!), so we’ve all been drinking more fluids than usual.  After all, most of us have taken up residence in our gardens, enjoying it while we can, and the only thing to do to keep cool is sit in the shade with a nice cold drink!

So does the hot weather impact on our diets? In my house it certainly does!  Not because I can’t stand the thought of a hot dinner, more because I don’t want to stand and cook it!  But generally speaking, the summer is a time of Barbecues, salads and easy to prepare foods, which is perfect for the list below, detailing some of the foods richest in water content – all super healthy and ideal for helping you stay hydrated.

 

Lettuce

The Great British salad staple, with a water content of 96%.  High in vitamins A and K which are great for healthy bones and immune system, lettuce can be quite a versatile food stuff.

Top tip: If you’re watching your weight, use large leaves as a wrap instead of a tortilla.

 

Celery

Again, a salad staple (but can be an acquired taste), with a 95% water content.  Rich in vitamin K, potassium and fibre celery is an excellent source of nutrients and water.

Top tip:  Dieters can munch their way through a mountain of the stuff – you’ll expend more calories with the action of eating it than you’ll consume!

 

Cucumber

Ultra-low in calories, with a 95% water content plus small amounts of Vitamin K, magnesium and potassium.  Who doesn’t love cucumber added to a cheese sandwich?

Top tip:  Sliced cucumber rested on the eyelids will sooth tired, puffy eyes, and reduce the appearance of ‘bags’.

 

Watermelon

The perfect summer fruit!  Containing 92% water, watermelon is full of vitamins A and C plus magnesium and other nutrients.  A large slice will fill you up with very little calorie intake.

Top tip: When selecting your watermelon, go for an oval, uniform shape. Avoid the shiny ones – they’re not properly ripe!

 

Strawberries

A real summer favourite!  Strawberries contain around 91% water and are packed with fibre, vitamins, minerals and disease-fighting antioxidants. Use as part of a healthy fruit salad, or be really bad and just add sugar, cream or ice-cream!

Top tip: Grow your own!  Needing relatively little care, plant your strawberry plants early, in well-drained soil in a sunny position. Water regularly, pick the flowers to encourage growth and you’ll have a bumper harvest, and save a bundle!