Put simply, water is essential for human life. It’s the largest component of our bodies, accounting for 50-60% of our total body mass. We all get swept up in the ever-changing health and wellness crazes but adequate hydration should be the staple trend that we continuously follow.
The 22nd March was World Water Day that brings awareness to those who don’t have access to safe drinking water. We’re lucky to have the availability of fresh drinking water yet so many people aren’t hydrating themselves properly. We shouldn’t take this necessity for granted as it brings countless health benefits.
Water is the medium through which our bodies transport important nutrients. Water also contributes to a healthy digestive system, ensuring the regular removal of waste from our bodies. We aren’t designed to cope on a restricted water intake; we literally need it to survive. So we need to drink enough, right? But how much is enough?
You’ve probably all been told that you should be drinking 8 glasses or 2 litres of water a day. But your required intake depends on many things like physical activity level, age, the environment and the weather. Although 2 liters is a great place to start, you should judge it on how you feel rather than a ‘one-size-fits-all’ prescription.
If you exercise regularly, it’s important to drink enough before and after workouts. If you also have a physically demanding job, you’ll need to drink even more. Being properly hydrated before any workout will allow you to push your limits and perform at your best. Rehydrating adequately afterwards will help to replace the water lost through sweat and can help reduce muscle cramp.
If you’re exercising outside in the heat this summer (let’s be hopeful eh?), your body will lose an increased amount of water. Therefore in these situations, it’s even more crucial to hydrate yourself appropriately, maintaining your energy levels and ensuring a healthy internal system.
If you’re drinking enough water, you’ll need regular toilet breaks, it’s simple science. So for those stuck at a desk all day, drinking water forces you to get up and about. Keep a water bottle at your desk and you’ll be more likely to finish it. Once it’s gone, make the effort to get up and refill it and you’ll benefit from that bit more movement throughout the day. It’s not just our physical health that’s impacted by our water consumption. Dehydration can affect our mental wellbeing too.
It’s important to drink water steadily throughout the day as even mild dehydration can impact our mental health. Short periods of water restriction can effect our concentration and alertness and can make us feel tired, leading to headaches and nausea. You might find that you need more than the recommended 2 litres, so if you feel drained or unwell throughout the day, it could be that you’re not drinking enough. This drowsiness can also contribute to generally feeling down. Getting the right amount of water for us individually allows a clearer head and can boost our mood.
Dehydration is also often misconstrued as hunger and many people who don’t drink enough overeat as a result. So if you’ve not long had breakfast and think you’re still hungry, drink a big glass of water first to see if your food cravings subside. If that doesn’t do the trick, then you’ll know you’re actually hungry.
If you aren’t the biggest fan of plain old water, try sparkling instead. Or add fruits or vegetables like lemon, cucumber, mint or strawberries to give your water some flavour and make it more exciting. So try these little tricks to increase your water consumption and see if you feel the benefits!