When we look around today, on Shop Street, in cafes, bars, hotels, it’s not surprising to see lots of people carrying bottles of water everywhere. A recent report tells us that it has become the second most popular drink (after soft drinks and just ahead of coffee). However, some water lovers were surprised recently when a new report found that the benefits of drinking water may have been exaggerated. Apparently drinking eight glasses a day was nothing more than a guideline and not based on scientific evidence.
Water is still good for us, it just means what I’ve been saying for years, the one rule fits all does not apply to optimum nutrition, see one man’s water is another man’s poison, so don’t put your water bottle or glass down just yet. Water like all other nutrients needs to satisfy a bodily requirement, to replenish the water lost by the body every day, due to evaporation through the skin, or excreted in urine, stool and breathing. Water is lost through the skin, breathing. Water is one of our essential nutrients meaning that we need to take it into the body regularly, so there are plenty of good reasons to drink water.
When you excrete more than you take in, you become dehydrated. You can lose even more fluids when you live or vacation in warm climates, during strenuous exercise and in high altitudes. Older adults experience a lower sense of thirst and may not drink their required daily intake.
Staying safely hydrated
My recommendation is to listen to your body, we all really need to listen more to our bodies because it has its own intelligence and can subtly communicate what it needs if we only listen. With that said, you should drink water when you feel thirsty, be aware of an excessive thirst, it may mean visiting your physician for tests regarding diabetes.
Observe how much urine you excrete per day, the “healthy norm” should be in the region of 1.5 liters (6.3 cups) or more of colourless or light yellow urine. If you’re concerned about your water intake or have health issues, check with your doctor or nutritionist. He or she can help you determine the amount of water that’s right for you. To hydrate the body safely, make sure your body has the fluids it needs, make water your beverage of choice. I recommend drinking a glass of water with each meal and between each meal, also to drink water before, during and after exercise. The Institute of Medicine determined that an average adequate intake for men is roughly 3 litres (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day. The average adequate intake for women is 2.2 litres (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day.
Too Much Water
It is possible to drink too much water. Hyponatremia is a condition in people who drink large amounts of water, which results in the kidneys being unable to excrete the excess water, the electrolyte content of the blood is diluted, resulting in low sodium levels in the blood. Endurance athletes increase their risk of hyponatremia when they drink large amounts of water. In general, though, drinking too much water is rare in healthy adults who eat a healthy diet
6 Reasons to Drink Water to a Smiling Body
1. Drinking Water Helps Maintain Body Fluid Balance.
Your body is composed of approximately 60% water. The functions of fluids in the body include digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, and maintenance of body temperature. Nephrologist Steven Guest, MD of Stanford University says that the posterior pituitary gland, your brain communicates with your kidneys and tells it how much water to excrete as urine or hold onto for reserves. When you’re low on fluids, the brain triggers the body’s thirst mechanism and unless you are taking medications that makes you thirsty, when you feel this you should gets yourself a drink of water.
2. Water Helps Control Calories.
Water is not a magical diet for healthy weight, it has been used for years successfully by substituting water for higher calorie beverages. “What works with weight loss is if you choose water or a non-caloric beverage over a caloric beverage and/or eat a diet higher in water-rich foods that are healthier, more filling, and help you trim calorie intake,” says Penn State researcher Barbara Rolls, PhD. Food with high water content tends to look larger, its higher volume requires more chewing, and it is absorbed more slowly by the body, which helps you feel full. Water-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, broth-based soups, oatmeal, and beans.
3. Water Helps Energize Muscles.
Muscle fatigue results when cells don’t maintain their balance of fluids and electrolytes. “When muscle cells don’t have adequate fluids, they don’t work as well and performance can suffer,” says Steven Guest, MD of Stanford University. Drinking enough fluids is important for athletes. Before the event or training, drink 500 ml (2 cups) and drink water at regular intervals throughout to replace fluids lost by sweating.
4. Water Helps Keep Skin Looking Good.
Your skin benefits from water but not only that it functions as a protective barrier to prevent excess fluid loss. When you are dehydrated your skin looks and feels dry and wrinkled, which improves with proper hydration. Using a quality natural moisturiser can “lock” in moisture into the skin.
5. Water Helps Your Kidneys Detoxify Your Body.
The main toxin in the body is blood urea nitrogen, a water-soluble waste that is able to pass through the kidneys to be excreted in the urine. Your kidneys are responsible for cleansing and ridding your body of toxins, however this depends on an adequate intake of fluids.
When your body is not getting enough fluids, urine concentration, colour, and odour increases because the kidneys trap extra fluid for bodily functions. If you regularly drink too little water, you may be at higher risk for kidney stones, especially in warm climates. When you’re getting enough fluids, urine flows freely, is light in colour and free of odour.
6. Water Helps Maintain Normal Bowel Function.
Adequate fluid intake helps with hydration, which in turn keeps things moving along your gastrointestinal tract and prevents constipation. When you don’t get enough fluid, the colon pulls water from stools to maintain hydration and the result is constipation.
Adequate fluid and fibre is the perfect combination, because the fluid pumps up the fibre and acts like a broom to keep your bowel functioning properly.
5 Tips to Help You Drink More
If you think you need to be drinking more, here are some tips to increase your fluid intake and reap the benefits of water:
- 1. Have water with every snack and meal. I do not recommend coffee or fizzy soft drinks.
- 2. Choose healthy beverages you enjoy, that way you are more likely to drink additional liquids if you like the way they taste.
- 3. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Their high water content will add to your hydration. About 20% of our fluid intake comes from foods.
- 4. Keep a bottle of water with you in your car, at your desk, or in your bag.
- 5. Choose beverages that meet your individual needs. If you’re watching calories, go for water or non-caloric beverages.
Factors that influence water needs
You may need to modify your total fluid intake depending on how active you are, the climate you live in, your health status, and if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding.
- Exercise. If you exercise or engage in any activity that makes you sweat, you need to drink extra water to compensate for the fluid loss. An extra 400 to 600 milliliters (about 1.5 to 2.5 cups) of water should suffice for short bouts of exercise, but intense exercise lasting more than an hour (for example, running a marathon) requires more fluid intake. How much additional fluid you need depends on how much you sweat during exercise, and the duration and type of exercise. During long bouts of intense exercise, it’s best to use a sports drink that contains sodium, as this will help replace sodium lost in sweat and reduce the chances of developing hyponatremia, which can be life-threatening. Also, continue to replace fluids after you’re finished exercising.
- Environment. Hot or humid weather can make you sweat and requires additional intake of fluid. Heated indoor air also can cause your skin to lose moisture during wintertime. Further, altitudes greater than 8,200 feet (2,500 meters) may trigger increased urination and more rapid breathing, which use up more of your fluid reserves.
- Illnesses or health conditions. When you have fever, vomiting or diarrhea, your body loses additional fluids. In these cases, you should drink more water. In some cases, your doctor may recommend oral rehydration solutions, such as Gatorade, Powerade or CeraLyte. Also, you may need increased fluid intake if you develop certain conditions, including bladder infections or urinary tract stones. On the other hand, some conditions such as heart failure and some types of kidney, liver and adrenal diseases may impair excretion of water and even require that you limit your fluid intake.
- Pregnancy or breast-feeding. Women who are expecting or breast-feeding need additional fluids to stay hydrated. Large amounts of fluid are used especially when nursing. The Institute of Medicine recommends that pregnant women drink 2.3 liters (about 10 cups) of fluids daily and women who breast-feed consume 3.1 liters (about 13 cups) of fluids a day.
James O’Sullivan is a credible and engaging speaker, a visiting lecturer to Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, a people friendly practitioner of Integrative Medicine at Galway Smiling Body Acupuncture Clinic, serving his patients, his students and the public with the positive benefits of both Conventional Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine. He is a respected author and has appeared on many public media.