So why is water so important?
Water is vital in order for our bodies to function; it lubricates eyes and joints, flushes out toxins and waste, and keeps our skin healthy.
Our bodies contain a large amount of water; in fact about two-thirds of our body weight is water. However, we need it all – losing just one percent of our body weight due to fluid loss can cause dehydration and any more than that can lead to serious medical complications. And remember we’re constantly losing water, by sweating or urinating, so by drinking we’re keeping our supplies topped up.
How can I tell if I’m dehydrated?
The easiest way to is to look at the color of your urine. If it’s pale you’re probably ok, if it’s any darker than the color of straw, you’re probably not drinking enough.
Symptoms of dehydration include headaches, loss of concentration and tiredness, dry eyes and skin. Ongoing dehydration can cause problems with, among other things, your kidneys, liver, joints and muscles. Many people are unaware that they’re dehydrated; they’ve simply become used to not feeling 100 per cent. If you ever feel thirsty, you’re probably dehydrated. You should drink throughout the day, rather than when your body cries out for liquid.
From a vanity point of view – hydrated skin looks younger as its plumper; dehydrated skin looks sallow, saggy and older. Just by drinking more water you could look years younger!
How much do we need?
The British Dietetic Association recommend that people living in the UK (or a country with a similar climate) drink six to eight glasses of water every day. That’s about one and a half to two liters; or a big bottle of water. Children will not need as much water as adults.
Remember that this advice is based on an average day; when the weather heats up, or you’ve done a lot of exercise you’ll need to drink more. Remember to stick to the daily recommended limit as drinking too much water can be just as damaging. Too much water could lead to water intoxication, which can be fatal.
To find out a more accurate water intake, try this calculator It calculates the amount of water you need to drink based on your weight and the amount of exercise you do each day.
What if I don’t like water?
The most efficient way to drink enough and stay hydrated is to drink plain water; a fizzy drink only contains about 65 per cent water.
If you really don’t like water, try diluting it with a little pure fruit juice.
If you’re also drinking tea and coffee it’s worth remembering that the caffeine in them acts as a diuretic, which means you’ll want to urinate more, so drink a little more to compensate. And while we’re at it, alcohol doesn’t count as it dehydrates you. So if you’re knocking back the booze you’ll need to up your water intake.
How can I drink more?
- Start each day with a glass of water – adding a squeeze of lemon or lime to give your digestive system a boost
- Keep a bottle of water on your desk and drink as you work
- Carry a small bottle of water in your bag with you
- Eat more fruit and vegetables – they’ve got a higher water content than most other foods
- Drink a glass of water at set points in the day – one before lunch, one before you leave work, one as you get home etc
- Have a glass of water every time you drink a cup of tea or coffee and every time you eat.
Bottled or tap?
Bottled water is big business these days. Many of us find that the water that comes from our taps doesn’t taste very nice, so buying bottled water seems like a logical solution. There are two types of bottled water, spring water and mineral water. Spring water comes directly from a spring – where it meets the ground, and it must be bottled at source. It can be treated in order to meet hygiene standards. Mineral water comes from under the ground, it flows over rocks before it’s collected which means it has a higher mineral content. Mineral water can’t be treated – except to remove dirt and grit.
There are no known benefits to drinking bottled water over tap water, but if you prefer it, then you’re likely to drink more, which is unarguably the healthier option.
Another option is to invest in a water filter. The filtering process lowers the lime-scale content of water, plus it reduces other substances that can affect the smell and taste of water; such as chlorine.