The human body consists of between 50% – 60% water. Drinking water is essential for us to survive.
It helps regulate your body temperature, carry nutrients around your body, lubricate your joints and help with waste elimination.
What Happens When You Are Sick?
Dehydration may occur if you have been ill with vomiting or diarrhoea, or you have been sweating a lot during exercise, because there is an electrolyte imbalance in the body.
Often, you are dehydrated before you even feel thirsty. A good test is to check the colour of your urine. The darker it is the more dehydrated you are. It should be clear or a light straw-like colour.
Warning Signs of Dehydration
- Lack of concentration, due to a reduction in saliva, which contains antibacterial properties.
- Dry mouth and bad breath.
- Feeling hungry, but your stomach’s not rumbling.
- Not passing urine often, or your urine is dark.
- Dry skin and lips
- Increased heartbeat.
Why Don’t You Drink Enough Water
We often don’t drink enough water as we are not aware how much we need, so we think we are getting enough
We are a nation of tea and coffee drinkers and that seems to take priority to drinking water. This may be a lot down to our climate in the UK. I bet you drink much more water when you go abroad on your summer holidays.
We don’t want to have to count how much we drink, like we count calories. We just want something that makes us feel good. Usually we get our instant high from our instant tea or coffee.
How Do You Know How Much Water Your Body Needs?
If you feel energetic, urinate on a regular basis and don’t feel thirsty then you are probably getting a decent amount of water into your body.
If you have any of the symptoms of dehydration described earlier in this post, then you need to look at your intake.
This formula may help act as a guide to how much water you need:
Minimum Intake of Water (in ounces) = Weight (in pounds) / 2
You will need more if you are very active or are breastfeeding.
What Are the Benefits of Drinking Water?
- Reduced headaches.
- Better concentration.
- More energy.
- Better mood.
- Alleviates constipation.
- Reduces fluid retention in the body (ironically).
- Regulates body temperature.
- Improves skin.
- Boosts immune system.
- Prevents hangovers.
- Prevents kidney stones.
- Helps flush out toxins.
- Prevents muscle and joint pain.
Tips to Help You Drink More Water
- Start and end your day with a glass of water (this may help to reduce the chance of strokes and heart attacks when asleep).
- Drink a glass of water before each meal. It will help you eat less too. Double whammy!
- Fill up a bottle with the amount you should be drinking each day and set a timer on your phone to alert you when you need to have some.
- Take water with you when you leave the house.
- Eating the right foods may also hydrate you, aswell as drinking water. Eat more foods with a high-water content.
- Avoid stimulants such as energy drinks, coffee and tea, as they contain caffeine, which is a diuretic and will make your body lose water. If you do drink anything with alcohol or caffeine, drink at least one glass of water after it.
- Drink plenty of water when you have diarrhoea or vomiting to replace fluids lost.
- Set a timer on your phone to drink a glass of water at regular intervals, so you at least reach minimum intake. You could also use a time marked water bottle.
- Turn it into a challenge with friends to see who can reach their target every day.
- If you don’t like the taste of water, you can liven it up with fruit squeezed into it. Strawberries and lemon improve the flavour.
- Filter your water in a filter jug and keep it in the fridge.
- Your skin will thank you if you keep it hydrated.
- Increase your water intake via fruit and vegetables with a high-water content such as:
- Associate your drinking time to activities throughout your day. These could include going to the toilet, eating, after picking the kids up from school, on the bus on the way home from work.
What Happens If You Drink Too Much Water?
The medical term for drinking too much water over a short period of time is hyponatremia.
People who exercise to high levels, such as athletes may be prone to this.
If a body is over-hydrating the brain does not release anti-diuretic hormones into the blood. Sodium electrolytes are diluted which causes body cells to swell. This may put a strain on kidneys and manifest itself in the form of headaches, vomiting and seizures, which, in rare cases, may be fatal.
Can Babies Drink Water?
Babies should not drink water until they are about 6 months old, as it may contain too much sodium.
Breastfeeding and Formula Milk are how they hydrate themselves, although breastfed babies don’t need water until they eat solid food.
As you can see, water is so important to your body. It helps you look better, feel better and potentially live longer. It truly is the elixir of life and you now have no excuse not to top up your body’s levels.