What we need to know about drinking water.
Our mum told us that we all need to drink 8 glasses of water a day, but did she know what she was talking about? Yes/No/Maybe, personally, I think she did. Her simple generalisation certainly didn’t do us any harm and it was a good thing to instil in us as kids. Let’s be honest here, water is essential for the running of our body, and although the amount may be disputed by the experts ( they all have different opinions), we all need different amounts because we are of different ages, weight and have activity levels.
Water is not the magic pill, but the benefits it has for our body is great.
Here are the basic facts: our body is comprised of an average of 60% water; our heart and brain are composed of 73%; lungs 83% and the kidneys and muscles are 79% water. Keeping hydrated is so important just to keep our organs working properly.
Fluid losses occur all the time, through breathing, sweating, urine and our stools. Replacing what is lost is vitally important to our health and when we don’t we become dehydrated and eventually our body shuts down. We don’t want that! So, drink more water to stay healthy!!!!
On average we can’t live more than 3 days without water because we need it to regulate our body fluids. The body fluids remove the toxins from our cells and body in the form of urine and stools. It is important for our circulation, which transports oxygen, lymph and blood cells around the body, it aids in digestion, the breakdown and uptake of nutrients from food and it regulates our body temperature.
Water – a wrinkle buster
Water is an essential component of our skin as it keeps it elastic and stops dehydration. It helps reduce wrinkles!!! Yes yeah!!!! But it also keeps our muscles lubricated, reducing fatigue and replaces the loss of fluids through our sweat which keeps the body cool.
All our organs need water for proper maintenance, but especially the kidneys as this are where the body rids itself of the build-up of toxins. You know that excess bottle of wine we drank last night!!! Yep, we need lots of water so our kidneys can flush it through and get rid of it and keep us healthy.
Water is a great lubricator as it cushions the organs, sensitive tissues, spinal cord and adds a barrier between the brain and the skull. It also keeps our vaginas lubricated and us enjoying sex, (now we want that)!! It keeps our blood at the right consistency so it can circulate around the body and keeps our airways moist so breathing is easy too.
Water – kidney and gut affects
When we don’t drink enough water our urine becomes dark, cloudy and has a pungent odour, yuck! We are also at a higher risk of developing kidney stones and having urinary tract infections (UTI) and we don’t need these. The more water we drink the less constipation affects us too and our cognitive abilities are better too, and interestingly dehydration also affects our wound healing ability. So at the end of the day we all need to drink plenty of water!
Although the experts can’t agree on an amount it is sort of thought women should have between 8-12 cups a day. That’s sort of what mum said, especially if you consider that only 80% is coming from drinks and the rest can come from food sources as well. Soups, stews, yoghurt, vegetables like tomatoes, carrots, lettuce and fruits like oranges, bananas, watermelon, pears etc provide great sources of water too.
Drinks such as milk and juices are great sources of liquid but tap water is the best especially as it doesn’t contain empty calories. Stay away from soft drinks, beer and alcohol as there are no advantageous nutrients or benefits to the body and just increase the calorie intake or maybe a fun night, but I will let you work that one out.
Originally caffeinated drinks like coffee were thought to be a diuretic, but current research is tending to say that this is minimal and can be counted into your water intake, so don’t stress girls, count that cup of coffee as your water.
Should you drink water while eating?
Yes, why not? This won’t do you any harm and is a great way to increase your water intake and you may even find you decrease your calorie intake as well, as the water fills your stomach.
Our body will tell us when we need to increase our water intake by becoming thirsty. Make sure you always have a bottle of water on hand so you can quench your thirst especially if the weather is hot as you will be sweating more. If you have a fever or exercising or doing physical activity you will need to increase your water intake to replace what is naturally being lost through the skin. If you are sick, have diarrhoea and vomiting it is also a good time to increase your water intake, it will flush your body of the toxins and help you to feel better.
How to stay hydrated.
Having a glass of water with each meal and snack is a great habit to get into, also eating more fruits and vegetables with high water content can add to the daily total amount of water you intake too.
Keeping a bottle of water in your bag, on your desk and in the car is a great idea or just getting into the habit of carrying one with you at all times is the best thing you can do, then when you are thirsty you always have a drink.
If you don’t like plain water, add some fruit or maybe cucumber to the bottle and the natural flavouring will alter the taste encouraging you to drink more without adding unnecessary calories.
How long before bed should you stop drinking water?
Great question, but only you know your bladder and waking habits in the middle of the night. So only you can answer this question and it all depends on what you are drinking too.
Spreading your intake of water
Personally, I love drinking when I first wake up, so I have a couple of big drinks straight up and I look forward to it every morning. I have a huge cup that is probably a 2 cup capacity and that is my go-to every morning. I am obviously dehydrated from the night’s sleep, so I drink heaps in the morning and that is when I get most of my fluid intake into my body. I spread the rest of my liquid intake over the rest of the day and I have my last full cup of liquid probably at the latest an hour before be. Some nights I need a small drink or a sip when I first go to bed,
Can you drink too much water?
Yep, there is a condition, but it is rare and only affects endurance athletes and people with diabetes. If you are drinking water to excess then go see your doctor and get it checked out.
The majority of us really don’t get enough water, so don’t panic, just have another glass of water, your kidneys will thank you for it and so will the wrinkles on your skin.