Water, it does the body good!

This week is Nutrition & Hydration Week, so what better time to take a look at the benefits of drinking water? We all know we should be drinking more, but how much? What type of water is best, and how can you squeeze it into your busy day?

Let’s start by taking a look at why we need to get good quality water into our systems every day. And before you say it, you shouldn’t be counting the water content in your double espresso or caramel latte as part of your daily allocation.

Simply, water does the body good. It will help you to lose weight, flush out toxins, improve your skin, improve your productivity, help prevent constipation, fight infection, boost your energy, prevent joint pains, and help all of your major organs to function better. If you could take a pill that did all of that, would you be tempted? No need, a few glasses of H2O will do it all for you.

How much water should you drink?

Our bodies are made up of 60-75% water, and the amount you drink can have an impact on your health, both positively and negatively. Too much can result in mineral imbalances, while too little can cause dehydration, headaches and fatigue.

As with everything, the amount of water you need comes down to you as an individual. On average, men should drink about three litres (13 cups) and women about 2.2 litres (9 cups) of water each day. But, in order to satisfy individual needs, various lifestyle factors need to be taken into account. For example, the water content in fresh fruits and green leafy vegetables may increase hydration in the body.

When should you increase your water intake?

You need more water (over and above the guidelines given above) if:

  • You’re in a hot or humid climate
  • At high altitude (above 8,200 feet)
  • During exercise
  • If you’re ill or have a fever
  • With diarrhoea
  • If you’re vomiting
  • When you have infections of the bladder or urinary tract
  • When pregnant/breast feeding
  • With increased alcohol intake

What water should you be drinking?

There are many types of water including tap, bottled, filtered, distilled and alkaline ionised water. Consumption generally depends on cost and availability, as not everyone has access to the best sources of water.

  • Tap water – is most readily available but may not always be the safest option. Recently, in my local Co-op everyone in the queue broke out in laughter, as a man wearing a high-vis vest from our local water company, was buying two 5 litre bottles of water. He responded by saying he knew what was in the water, and he’d never drink it! Click here to find out if the water in your area is safe. You may need an additional home purification system.
  • Water filters – can help remove contaminants from water. It’s important to know which contaminants are present in your water in order to choose the right filter. The link above will help guide you with this.
  • Distillation – the process of boiling water, helps to remove impurities and toxins. However, some believe the naturally occurring minerals in non-distilled water are beneficial to health.
  • Bottled water – a popular option if you don't have access to safe tap water; however, there are growing concerns about chemicals from the plastic seeping into the water, as well as the effects that the increasing number of bottles is having on the environment.
  • Water ionisers – are gaining more recognition for their ability to create alkaline ionised water through electrolysis, which may have certain health benefits.

Simple ways to drink more water each day

Knowing that you need it, often isn’t enough. We’re on auto-pilot to reach for a coffee at certain times in the day, and it can be easily forgotten. Here are some tips to help you remember and enjoy your daily water allocation.

  • Connect the act of drinking water with another action – for example, every time you come out of the bathroom, pour yourself a glass. Eventually, the connection will stick, and it will become second nature.
  • Sip some water before each meal – it’s actually better for you to drink before you eat, rather than while you’re eating. This is because water dilutes the impact of the acids that digest your food in your large intestine. So, drink a little before your meal.
  • Add some fruit to your water – if you find water to be too plain, try adding some berries, cucumber or ginger to your bottle. It will add flavour. But don’t be tempted to buy flavoured water from the supermarket, it’s full of unnecessary sugar.
  • Use a marked water bottle – fill your water bottle in the morning, and aim to drink what’s in each segment. Here’s a bottle that incorporates both the marked approach and adding fruit.
  • Track it with an app – if you love your tech, you may like to track it with an app. Here’s one available from the Apple store.

However you get your water, make sure you get some, and ideally the right amount for you, on any given day and in any type of environment.