By Sanah Thakur
When our parched throats are pleading to be hydrated, what do we normally replenish the thirst with? Maybe a cold caloric drink or a warm mug of coffee; anything but the easily available and free liquid: water. And that is why we are constantly reminded by nutrition articles, doctors and mothers to keep drinking more water.
Why should I drink more water?
The human body consists of 75% water; like oil that fuels a car, water fuels our biological system. Water is involved in every cellular process in the body and ensuring you stay hydrated means keeping the engine running. As natural lubricant, it enables for the smooth movement of our joints, eyes, mouth and even bigger systems like the digestive and urinary. Sweating when we exercise or spending time in humid weather enables us to regulate the body temperature. Water balances out the affect that perspiration has, replacing the water we lose every time we sweat and also allowing toxins to leave the body through sweat.
Without water, our energy levels will be low and basic human functioning will be difficult.
How much water is enough water?
One of the common and oldest myths in nutrition, is the ‘8x8’ water rule, implying that the body requires exactly 8, 8 ounce glasses daily. However, there isn’t a specific number. It is your own individual body that decides how much water is enough!
The amount of water intake varies with certain factors:
1. Environment: Living in hot or humid climates requires additional water intake. Even spending time in higher altitudes can cause dehydration.
2. Body Weight: The recommended water intake depends on your body weight. For women it is usually around 2.7 litres and 3.7 litres for men, however by calculation one can arrive at the needed amount respective to weight.
3. Exercise: Engaging in body exerting activities, increases perspiration levels and ultimately water intake.
4. Diet: Certain water-rich foods like celery, cabbage and watermelon, eliminate unwanted fluids and therefore, more water is required to replace them. Fluid levels can also be maintained by water from food and other drinks such as milk, juice and tea.
With all of these factors into consideration, we can decide for ourselves how much water is enough for our bodies. Most research claims that 2 litres is sufficient, but only your body will allow you to agree!
How will drinking more benefit me?
Apart from being essential for survival, water has a number of health benefits, which will get you desiring it for more.
Prevention of common health problems
A dehydrated colon is one that is more likely to lead to constipation. It is crucial to consume more fluids to prevent constipation and also replace the water lost during the opposing process of diarrhoea. Acne and scarring are also common problems that claim to be responsive to higher water intake. Kidney stones can be prevented if the accumulation of chemicals in the kidney is stopped by dilution of the same through water.
Drinking more water will help improve your metabolic rate. This happens when the chemical reactions that constitute your metabolism move smoothly due to hydration. A common mistake our brain makes sometimes is reading thirst as hunger, causing us to indulge in small snacks to remove the feeling. By drinking water every time we feel hungry, we can help prevent this mistake and weight gain. Consuming water 30 mins before a meal is also assumed to reduce the calories absorbed during the meal, especially in obese older individuals.
Improved Brain Function
Water plays an active role in maintaining a constant level of energy and healthy brain function. In one study, heat stress-induced dehydration was seen to impact mental performance. At 2 % or more levels of body dehydration, psychological functions such as short term memory, arithmetic ability and vasomotor tracking revealed some deterioration.
Reduced Risk for Heart Problems
Drinking ample glasses of water can help reduce the risk for heart attacks by 40%. Consuming more water increases energy levels and motivates you to engage in energetic activities, indirectly also protecting you against heart problems.
How will I know I’m drinking enough?
To make sure you’re keeping up the habit of drinking water regularly and doing a good job, watch out for these indications;
1- You will feel thirsty less often than you used to
2- Your pee will be a lighter yellow or even colourless.
3- You will feel less tired and have better concentration
How do I remind myself effectively?
It often slips our mind to drink those 6-8 glasses of water every day. It’s easy to stay on the right track with a little help:
1- Drink water in small sips throughout the day
2- Keep a bottle of water on your bedside so you can drink when you wake up and before you sleep.
3- Replace at least one caloric drink or tea/coffee glass with water
4- Consume water-rich foods
5- Drink some after you use the toilet
Follow these tips and soon you’ll allow your parched throats the luxury of this extremely beneficial element- H2O without even thinking about it consciously.
* The author can be contacted on Instagram @sincerelysanah
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