Are you drinking enough water?

Often, I find the answer to this question is no and this can be one of the reasons why the body is not functioning properly. So, let me talk you through the basics of why water is so vital for our health.

Why does the body need water?

Water is fundamental to long-term health because 75% of the body is made up of water and every cell in our body requires water in order to function. Water transports nutrients around the body and toxins out of both cells and organs for elimination. As the body is continually losing water through sweat, breath and stools, this fluid needs to be constantly replaced. Therefore, adequate hydration plays a major role in optimal functioning of the human body and will help cognitive function, energy, skin health, regulate body temperature and help prevent constipation. (1)

What are the signs that I am not drinking enough water?

  • Increased thirst or a dry or sticky mouth

  • Poor concentration and memory (2)

  • Feeling tired or fatigued

  • Feeling irritable and short-tempered

  • Feeling anxious - the brain is 85% water and is very sensitive to dehydration

  • Constipation and digestive problems

  • Headaches, dizziness

How much water should I drink?

1½ -2 litres per day which is the equivalent of 6-8 glasses, including fruit juices, herbal teas (except green tea) but does not include tea, coffee or alcohol (3)

Note - temperature changes such as climate, humidity, how much you exercise, central heating or air-conditioned offices can increase the need for water.

Top Tips for drinking more water

  • Start the day with a glass of water on waking (as you are breaking the overnight fast) and/or with a healthy juice which is not only nutrient dense but will provide you with the fluid that your body needs

  • Have a water bottle with you in the day or on your desk - preferably in a glass, stainless steel or BPA-free plastic bottle

  • If you constantly forget to drink, set a timer on your phone or use an app such as ‘My water’ which will remind you to drink and also monitor your daily fluid intake

  • People often mistake thirst for hunger so, if you feel hungry, have a glass of water first

  • If you don’t like the flavour of plain water, try adding cucumber, lime, lemon or mint

  • If you are drinking alcohol, drink water alongside it, or alternate your alcoholic drink with a glass of water to reduce the dehydrating effects of the alcohol

  • If you find it hard to drink enough water, remember - your body needs water for mental clarity (4) so that you can work well and carry out your daily activities. And your skin will look younger too!

What is the best type of water to drink?

To an extent, this is a matter of personal preference. However, the quality of the water you drink is also an important consideration. In cities in particular, the water is full of chlorine, drug residues including antibiotics as well as chemicals such as lead so you may want to think about how these can affect your body. Bottled water is not necessarily a better option as the plastic is not usually BPA free and so chemicals can leach into the drinking water. (5)

A water filter is a good solution as this will remove impurities from your drinking water which will taste better because chemicals like chlorine have been removed. However, filters don’t remove some heavy metals which is where a water distiller can help. Distillation removes all heavy metals and bacteria from the water and under the sink filters are very effective but expensive to install.

Can I drink too much water?

Yes, despite the kidneys easily excreting excess water, overhydration can be dangerous as it can cause the level of sodium in the body to drop too low (hyponatremia). It is rare, but can be fatal.

Why are children particularly vulnerable to dehydration?

Adults are usually good at regulating water in the body but these mechanisms are not fully developed in the young. Also, younger children can’t ask for a drink or don’t always know when they are thirsty. So, it is a good habit to make your children drink water regularly throughout the day so that when they are at school it will become second nature.

The role of water in the body is vital.

Whichever solution is best for you, drinking enough water will benefit your body.  Keeping hydrated is essential for good health.