Everyday health, explained

Virtual care · Aug 20, 2021

Managing our health is a life-long commitment. But over time, some health and hygiene routines become so second nature that we may never stop to question them. From your optimal daily water intake to how many hours of sleep you should be getting each night, we asked April Stewart, our Head of Clinical Services at TELUS Health Virtual Care, to weigh in and set the record straight.

1. How much water should you be drinking in a day?

Staying properly hydrated throughout the day helps your body function properly. According to Health Link BC, the common recommendation is to drink 6 or 8 glasses (250 mL or 8 fl oz) of water every day. Keep in mind that this amount may vary depending on factors like the climate you live in or the amount of physical activity you do in a day. If you exercise at an intensity high enough that you break a sweat, live in a hot climate, have a chronic or acute illness, or even if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, your water intake may need to be much higher.

2. How much caffeine per day is too much caffeine for the average adult?

Caffeine is a naturally occurring and artificially simulated substance that speeds up the central nervous system when absorbed into our bloodstream. Found naturally in products such as coffee, tea, chocolate and soft drinks, it is also included as an additive to energy drinks and a number of prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. Up to 400 mg of caffeine per day (roughly equivalent to 4 cups of brewed coffee or 10 cans of soft drink) appears to be safe for most healthy adults. However, if you regularly consume products that add up to more than 600 mg a day, your body may begin to experience negative side-effects, such as anxiety, restlessness and difficulty sleeping. A consistently high consumption of caffeine can even lead to agitation, tremors and rapid or irregular heartbeat. Even more serious, 5,000 mg of caffeine over a short period of time can even be fatal, so it is important to regulate the amount of caffeine you consume each day to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

3. Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day?

This is a tricky question to answer because it really depends on a person’s situation. Consensus in the scientific community has not been reached about whether or not breakfast is the “most important” meal of the day or if it is simply a question of how you schedule your eating throughout your day. The question of breakfast has also often been examined in
relation to weight loss. In this BBC article about breakfast, they explore the many different facets of what makes breakfast “important”, but there is no way to place this meal above all others; we should consider our individual nutritional health needs and nourish our bodies throughout the day.

4. Do we really need eight hours of sleep per night?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the amount of shut-eye you need per night varies usually based on your age. Babies and teens need more sleep because they are developing and growing at a quick rate. However, as we age, we need less sleep. For a healthy adult (who is not suffering from a sleep disorder or a chronic illness that may impact their need for sleep) the typical required amountof sleep is 7 to 9 hours. However, quality of sleep will also greatly influence how many hours an individual needs to feel refreshed and be ready to tackle the day. If you are having trouble getting the recommended amount of sleep every night, consider speaking to your doctor about improving your sleep hygiene and ways in which your environment can be adapted to allow for better sleep.

5. Are antiperspirants bad for your health?

Sweating is the body’s way of regulating temperature and not all perspiration occurs from the armpits. Most antiperspirants on the market today contain aluminum chloride compounds, or metallic salts, which mix with sweat to create a gel-like substance which clogs and shrinks pores, to help prevent excessive sweating. This process is mostly harmless, as the substance is eventually expelled by your pores and can be washed away. However, in the rare event that a person would have a sensitivity to aluminum salts, irritation and swelling may occur. If this is the case for you, your family doctor or dermatologist can assist in recommending alternative products.

6. Do we need SPF protection on cloudy days?

Yes. You should always protect your skin from prolonged exposure to potentially harmful UV rays all year round, regardless of the temperature. You are as likely to burn on a sunny cold day on the ski slopes as you are sitting on a beach in the summer. Remember that the sun can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes of exposure, and tanning or sunburns may increase your body’s chances of prematurely aging the skin and in some cases can lead to skin cancer. Consider wearing sunblock that has broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection and a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.

Health concerns can happen at any time. As part of our commitment to making healthcare
more accessible, TELUS Health Virtual Care offers you on-demand virtual healthcare services with a focus on genuine human connections at every step.
Discover TELUS Health Virtual Care.

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