Water is your body’s main component and makes up about 60 – 70 percent of your body weight and makes up to 90% of certain organs. Every system in your body depends on water. Drinking enough water a day is vital for your body to function efficiently – not only to keep cells hydrated, but also to support the body while it processes the food you eat and carry nutrients to the cells. It’s vital for flushing toxins out of your organs and provides a moist environment for the ear, nose and throat. It’s also really important for heart health. Keeping the body hydrated helps the heart pump blood through your arteries more easily. This also means blood supply to muscles is better so they can work more efficiently – not only during exercise but just in daily life. During exercise it becomes more important as it helps to keep strain off the heart. Lack of water or dehydration can be really serious and can cause a range of problems from something relatively minor like swollen feet or headaches, through to life-threatening conditions such as heat stroke and organ failure.
So how much water do you need?
How much water you need to be well hydrated will obviously vary from person to person – things like the weather, what clothes you’re wearing, activity etc will all impact on it but a rough guide is about 2 – 4 litres. There are individual differences in how different people sweat too – some people just naturally sweat more than others. There are also medical conditions that impact – people with diabetes or heart disease may need to drink more water.
So should you just drink when you’re thirsty? Well actually using thirst as an indicator isn’t great – if you’re thirsty that means you’re already dehydrated. The best thing to do is take a look at the colour of your urine – yep, check out your pee guys! If it’s pale and clear then you’re all good, if it’s dark then you need to drink more!
When you exercise you should definitely drink more and if you’re really interested in knowing how much water you need when you exercise then try weighing yourself just before and just after you do an exercise session. For every pound of sweat you lose you need to replace with about a pint of water.
Does it have to be water?
Well water is definitely the best option to drink if you want to stay hydrated but you can get this through lots of different sources – many fruits and vegetables have a high water content so you can help keep yourself hydrated through your normal diet. You can also try things like sports drinks for really high intensity exercise sessions but be careful as they tend to be high in sugar and added calories. Generally, try to drink plain water both during the day and for exercise – but if you really can’t stand it then get a funky infuser bottle and try adding some fruit slices, or go for a no-sugar squash. Avoid fizzy drinks and fruit juices if you can – they’re just bottles of sugar! And although tea and coffee are fine they contain caffeine and so act as a diuretic i.e. they make your body expel more water.
As well as making sure your heart, other organs and muscles stay healthy and function well, drinking enough water will also help you with weight maintenance and even loss. Drinking enough water will help to keep you feeling fuller for longer. Also the signals to the brain about hunger and thirst are often confused so you may think you’re hungry when you’re actually just thirsty. Keep a glass or bottle of water handy throughout your day and start glugging guys!
PS: See our article on heart health over here : DARLING MAGAZINE NORTH SURREY
This article is written by Dr Nancy Priston. Please remember, she isn’t a medical Dr, the information on this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your GP or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read on this site.