Drink water to stay healthy

Today we discuss the importance of drinking enough water. It is important to drink water regularly to stay healthy. After all, water is essential for life. It comprises 55-60% of adult body weight, 75% of the brain and 75% of infant weight.  Did you know that 80% of Australians and 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated? We often don’t realise we are dehydrated until we feel thirsty. This an important topic because the effects of dehydration can be significant. Your body needs regular water intake to support the ease-of-flow that allows the cells in our body to function effectively.

You need to drink water in order to

  • Maintain blood volume, blood pressure, and heart rate
  • Maintain temperature  – especially when hot
  • Distribute the flow of nutrients into cells
  • Remove waste products for excretion in urine
  • Maintain cognitive performance.
  • Maintain kidney function

On the other hand, dehydration can cause

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue, lethargy
  • Constipation
  • Loss of concentration, alertness and memory. Even mild dehydration can undermine concentration in children

How do we consume water?

The large majority of the water we ingest comes in beverages (80%). The balance comes from food and a very small amount from the oxidation of nutrients. You can boost your fluid intake by consuming more water-rich fruit and vegetables  (ie melons, lettuce, apples, oranges, cabbage, celery spinach/silverbeet).

Tap water or filtered

While most Australian water is unrecycled and quite drinkable out of the tap, I dislike the taste of chlorine.  So I prefer to drink filtered water which tastes better and is free of most impurities. You get what you pay for with a filter.  If you wish to remove chlorine or fluoride or other impurities, you will need one of the filter types below:

  • Activated carbon or UV filter will remove chlorine
  • Alkaliser with UV will remove chlorine
  • Reverse osmosis – will remove everything, including fluoride, female hormones and useful minerals

Water bottles

I think buying bottled water is expensive, wasteful and environmentally unfriendly. If you have to buy bottled water please don’t re-fill the bottles as they are designed for single use and the plastics can migrate into the water if exposed to the heat often found inside vehicles left in the sun. Hopefully, you have a drink bottle you can refill with clean water and the safest materials are glass or stainless steel. The BPA saga has made us suspicious of all plastic water bottles and we have thrown them out and now avoid using them.

How do you know you are drinking enough water?

Once you have a dry mouth and feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Then your body is working hard to reallocate fluid to support essential functions. Dehydration is more common as we age as the relationship between dehydration and thirst weakens. Water requirement does differ from one individual. A review of the literature suggests, “there is currently no consensus on a “gold standard” for hydration, particularly for mild dehydration.” Body fat/water bathroom scales are not a reliable measure of hydration. However, these scales can give a useful indication if you weigh yourself at the same time and under the same conditions each time.

How much water should you drink?

A simple marker for adequate hydration is to maintain light straw coloured urine. Another simple test is to pinch the skin on the back of your hand, if the skin takes 5-10 seconds to return to normal then you are slightly dehydrated.  The recommended daily intake of fluids to prevent dehydration is:

  • two litres (eight cups) for adult females
  • 2.6 litres (about 10 cups adult or males

We are all unique or bio-individual. So how much water you need reflects a variety of factors including:

  • Body weight
  • Age
  • Temperature and humidity
  • Acclimatisation to climate
  • Level of physical activity

My top three tips to ensure adequate hydration

  1. Start the day with a glass of water
  2. Create a healthy habit to drink water regularly throughout the day – keep a bottle with you
  3. Avoid sweet or carbonated drinks full of empty calories including vitamin water, artificial sweeteners, sports or energy drinks and fancy coffees. Soft drinks are little more than liquid sugar for more see here

If you would like to take the next step with Harry Armytage, complete the listening scorecard here

To find out more about what Sally Estlin does, head here

Photo by Carly Jayne on Unsplash