How much water should we drink a day?

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If you look around your standard supermarket nowadays there are so many trendy options to choose from. Strange and fascinating new varieties of water drinks; like coconut, cucumber and even cactus water. But none will beat a simple glass of H20 and they will certainly burn a hole in your pocket.

The human body is made up of around 60-70% water, but we constantly lose this mainly through urine and sweat. As water is involved in almost every bodily function from circulation to digestion it is essential that we replenish our water intake to stay hydrated.

But how much do you really need each day?

The actual amount required will vary from person to person. Depending on the person’s size, climate they live in, diet and their activity levels. Those living or holidaying in hotter environments or exercising will obviously be losing more water in sweat and will need to replenish.

The NHS recommends that people in the UK should drink 1.2 litres of water every day which equates to just over 2 pints. In hotter climates, the body will obviously need more than this and other countries medical guidelines will differ.

It is important to view the process as topping up your hydration levels every hour. It is not advisable to drink nothing all day and then down 2 full pints before bed. The ideal method is to sip water throughout the day. It must be remembered also that the body will absorb water from vegetables, fruit and unsweetened beverages in the same way it would from a trendy bottle of mineral water, so this will add to your daily hydration needs.

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Does drinking water help you lose weight?

As with most weight loss theories, if you look hard enough on Google there will be lots of conflicting articles. Drinking the right amount each day won’t make you automatically lose weight. However, drinking water links to increased metabolism and a reduction in appetite. So, when used correctly, this will aid weight loss.

In order to facilitate weight loss, it is better to drink cold water. The body will need to expend energy (calories) to heat it to body temperature. Studies show that drinking 500ml of water (2 cups) about half an hour before their meals will reduce your appetite and lead to lower calorie intake – especially in older individuals.

Does Drinking Water Help Prevent Health Problems?

This is a definite yes, and everyone will agree. As we have already mentioned water is involved in almost every bodily function, so if you’re not taking in enough water, then you are likely slowing down or possibly even preventing certain bodily functions. Staying fully hydrated can ease these functions, this will see a response in several health problems:

Skin Conditions – Staying hydrated helps rid the body and skin of its toxins which should help with dry and greasy skin, and acne problems.

Constipation – This is a very common problem, it is basically a dehydration of the colon. Drinking your required daily amount will stop water being withdrawn from the colon and prevent constipation occurring.

Kidney Stones – Drinking enough water keeps your urine diluted and this prevents waste products getting too concentrated and forming stones.

Cancer – Some studies show that keeping fully hydrated may reduce the risk of bladder cancer. Diluting the concentration of cancer-causing agents in the urine and helps your body pass them faster.

How do you know if you are dehydrated?

The feeling of thirst is the brain’s way of letting you know. Your body is becoming dehydrated and you’re not taking on enough water, but how else can you tell?

If your urine is darker coloured and strong smelling this is a strong and early indication of dehydration. Other symptoms can be a sluggish feeling, light headedness and dry mouth.

People at the extremes of the age ranges (infants and elderly), are more at risk of becoming dehydrated. Becoming drowsy, fewer wet nappies and rapid breathing are signs of dehydration in children. Elderly people may not realise they are dehydrated and confusion is a common sign of dehydration.

Individuals struggling with a fever, experiencing diarrhoea, sweats and vomiting will become dehydrated very quickly unless they replenish the water that they are losing from the body.

Is it possible to be overhydrated?

As with most things too much is a bad thing and it is possible to drink too much water. However, a person with healthy kidneys is usually able to control this with a few extra visits to the gents or ladies room.

Overhydration occurs when the body retains or stores too much water, which leads to water intoxication and dangerously low sodium levels, this is referred to as hyponatraemia. This is rare in an average person, though it does affect some athletes participating in endurance events that take on too much fluid.

In some cases there can be medical reasons why the body is unable to cope with excess water. This affects people with kidney and heart conditions. Swollen ankles are a common sign of water retention.

If all this has overcomplicated things for you and you want to take it back a step, to keep it very simple – For most people, when you’re thirsty, drink some water. When you’re not thirsty anymore, stop. Then during high heats and exercise, drink enough to compensate the fluids you lose, and that’s as simple as we can make it.

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