How often do you get frustrated with yourself because you know you should be doing something but you just don't do it?
Nowhere can this be more true than around the subject of drinking enough water.
"I never feel thirsty so I forget to drink".
"I'm not allowed to drink at work".
"I avoid drinking much cos otherwise I'm always rushing to the loo".
"I suffer from water retention so I don't want to make it worse by drinking water".
If I had a penny for every time someone says one of these to me I'd be on a Caribbean cruise right now.
Most of us realise in principle we do need water.
Literally 4 days without water and that's it. The human body is made up of two thirds water and the brain is almost three quarters water.
But somehow that knowledge is not enough to change our behaviour, we just expect our bodies to carry on regardless.
You may even think that your body is coping just fine with the limited amount of water that you drink but how many of these do you identify with?
Dehydration contributes to all of these conditions, for example...
√ Water is needed for the mucus production of the stomach lining so a lack could contribute to a gastric ulcer.
√ Water is also needed for the cushioning protection between joints so a lack of water could lead to increased pain.
√ Even asthma and allergies can be worsened through dehydration because a concentrated blood supply reaching the lungs increases the production of histamine.
Ever wondered why we are advised to drink a recommended 1.5-2 litres of water a day? Which by the way is about 6-8 glasses.
Well, the surprising truth is that our bodies are actually losing water all the time every 24 hours we lose:
1.5 litres in urine
750ml through our skin
400ml in our breath
150ml in bowel faeces
Which adds up to a staggering 2.81 litres per day!
Why don't we have to drink that much to replace it then?
The simple answer is that if you are eating enough fruit, vegetables and salad a day then those water-filled foods cover the short fall. The Government recommended 5-a-day, which is a good start but in fact 8-10 portions a day are more realistic.
When we feel thirsty we are already dehydrated!
If we still don't drink and continue to lose water then when we get to 3% water lost, it starts to impact our muscle strength which drops by 8%!
Is there a best time to drink water?
Actually, yes! It's best to drink between meals because you don't want to dilute your stomach acid when it's kicking in to digest your meal. This becomes more and more of a problem as we get older when we often don't produce as much stomach acid as we used to.
Never feel thirsty?
Sometimes a lack of feeling thirsty is because of misreading the signs - we mistake the feeling as a hunger pang and respond by eating instead of what was actually needed - a drink.
On the other hand, if you feel excessively thirsty despite drinking plenty of water then disrupted blood sugar levels or an essential fatty acid deficiency are two possible reasons and a visit to your GP is in order.
Water is actually more than just H2O it also contains essential minerals but the levels do vary depending on the water's source. For instance some spring waters can contain up to 100mg per litre of calcium which of course is so important for bones.
However tap water especially soft water is low in minerals and tap water also containing anti-nutrients that may be harmful i.e. lead and aluminium.
Natural spring water is therefore a great choice or alternatively, using a water filter jug or system does offer partial protection against the anti-nutrients.
Drink 8 glasses per day (more in a hot climate or after exercise) and see your GP if you are excessively thirsty
Eat at least 5 portions of vegetables, fruit and salad per day but aim for 8-10 portions.
Natural spring water provides minerals and filtered tap water reduces some of the anti-nutrients.
Avoid large glasses of water with meals as it dilutes stomach acid and disrupts digestion
Adequate hydration can eliminate some common problems such as constipation and headaches and also help reduce other symptoms such as allergies and joint pain.