Roughly 70% of your body is made up from water. Your blood is 83% water and your muscles and brain are around 75% water? Considering the various ways we loose liquid daily, it follows quite logically then that we need to keep our body supplied with a healthy amount of fresh water or something in our body is going to go wrong.
Yet even in our modern health conscious society, some specialists believe that many people are actually living most of their lives in a moderately dehydrated state. Most of us have heard that we need at least 8 to 12 cups of fluid daily, and even more to replace fluids lost during exercise, but very few people actually achieve this.
When we look at the benefits of drinking more water, and the dangers of dehydration, it seems strange that people are so slow to change their drinking habits. Here are some key benefits:
- Even a mild dehydration can affect your short-term memory and concentration.
- Drinking in a dehydrated state can cause gastrointestinal distress.
- For those trying to loose weight, drinking water helps suppress hunger, it helps your metabolism and when your body realises it is getting a constant supply of fresh water, it will release excess water that has been stored when supply was less frequent.
- Keeping your body hydrated can reduce back and joint pain.
- Water helps to cleanse your body of waste and toxins.
- Drinking water can improve your skin moisture.
- Vitamins and nutrients are more easily absorbed with a healthy water intake.
- Drinking pure water can support better digestion and increase your energy levels.
If you really don’t like the taste of water, try drinking water from a water cooler. Most people prefer drinking water cold, rather than room temperature, as it tastes quite different. Water from different sources can also have very different tastes; most people prefer the taste of mineral water that comes from a natural source. Serving the water in a glass (rather than a plastic or paper cup) will help it stay colder longer and retain a fresher taste.
Some people like to add mint, tea or lemon to water to make it more “exciting.” Others recommend creating your own “spa water” by adding slices of fruit such as strawberries or peaches. Adding just a splash of fruit juice (cranberry, pomegranate, or blueberry are good choices because of their antioxidant properties) can also make water more palatable.
Increasing your water intake
- Increase your water intake gradually, 1 cup at a time, to allow your body to adjust to the change. With a sudden change in your drinking habits, you might find yourself running to the bathroom every 10 minutes.
- Have water within reach at all times. Make sure there is always a glass of water on your desk. Carry around a bottle of water when you are on the move.
- Add a little flavour to your water (e.g. lime or lemon) for variety.
- Make sure you have good water available at home. It may seem obvious, but pay attention to your mouth and lips. If they are dry, you’re thirsty and need more water.
- Take note of the colour of your urine. If it looks like the colour of apple juice, you are probably dehydrated. If it looks more like the colour of lemonade, you are probably well hydrated.
- Drink early and often when exercising. Exercise under hot and humid conditions can cause dehydration in as little as 30 minutes.
- It’s important to consume fluids not only during and after exercise, but also before a workout or strenuous activity.
- At a minimum, drink one glass of fluid every 15 minutes during exercise.
- During exercise, don’t trust your sense of thirst alone as your thirst mechanism can shut down rapidly and you may not realize your need for fluids.
- Set a schedule to drink by and keep to it.
Note that this is not medical advice. You should always consult your doctor before making any drastic changes to your eating and drinking habits.