I’m continuing my series of voice care tips today by addressing the important issue of hydration.
No Olympic athlete would attempt to compete without first taking onboard the right amount of fluid. As a vocal athlete you must take a similar approach, drinking a minimum of two liters of water a day.
Ensuring that you meet your daily water quota is important, but equally important is the way you meet it. Don’t think you can gulp down large quantities of water in short spaces of time. It’s not that easy.
If you drink too much water at once, most of it will pass out through the kidneys. (Next time you’re watching athletics, or a basketball game, note that the athletes do not chug their way through entire bottles of fluid at once. In fact they seem to spit out more than they take in; but that’s another story.)
It works better if you sip water; that way more of it will be absorbed into your body.
Why is hydration so important? Think of how oil lubricates the pistons of a car engine so they can move up and down with minimal wear and tear to the engine. Similarly, the mucous that covers your throat and larynx allows your vocal cords to move together, back and forth, and to create the mucosal wave that gives suppleness to your tone.
It takes two liters of water to help the body create the three cc’s of mucous needed each day to lubricate the vocal cords. When you drink the right amount of water you have enough saliva to lubricate your mouth, and enough mucous for the mucosal membrane that lubricates your throat and vocal cords.
But be careful: Not all drinks are good for hydration. For example, tea and coffee should not be relied upon for hydration because they are diuretics. The caffeine they contain will make you urinate more frequently, causing you to lose water from your system. Worse, the acid they produce in the stomach can lead to gastroesophageal reflux disease.
How do you know if you are adequately hydrated? I tell patients to drink enough water to make their urine white (or in medical parlance, until they “pee pale”). If you’re seeing a darker yellow, you’re not drinking enough.
— Drink two litters of water a day
— Always sip water to allow your body to absorb the water better
— When hydrating avoid diuretics like tea and coffee
— Look out for the warning signs that you are dehydrated, such as dark yellow urine
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