Water is the major constituent of the human body, with every major system influenced by fluid balance. Water is responsible for clearing toxins, carrying nutrients to organs and cells, lubricating joints and bones and regulating our body temperature. Adequate water intake is essential to assist your body systems in functioning optimally. Over the past 40 years, however, humans have been dangerously misled by sports drink companies to believe that we need to drink ahead of thirst to be optimally hydrated. In fact, excess water consumption can have some serious adverse effects on physical and mental functioning. So we need to drink enough, but not too much…so how much should we drink?
1. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY – THE ‘SCIENCY’ STUFF
The human body is an incredibly impressive system and has pretty good ways of letting you know when somethings not quite right. When it comes to hydration, your body indicates that it needs more water through the signal of thirst. When you lose water your blood sodium concentrations increase. This is sensed by receptors in your brain, which produce hormonal changes that you feel through an increase in thirst. An increase in thirst generally leads to a behavioural change of you seeking out fluid to ingest. The ingestion of water reduces the blood sodium concentrations and through the same pathway as before, reduces the sensation of thirst. Listen to your body, when you’re thirsty – drink water and when you’re not – stop drinking,
2. FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES – THE ‘PRACTICAL’ STUFF
It is recommended that women should consume 2l of water per day, and men 2.5l per day. Exact amounts are dependent on individual body weight and size and vary depending on activity levels and the temperature (heat) for the day. This equates to 8-10 glasses of water a day. Some useful tips to help you get your 8 glasses in.
- Invest in a reusable water bottle to carry with you and sip on throughout the day.
- Use an App to track your glasses. In-App notifications will remind you to drink throughout the day. Give Daily Water a try.
- Get into herbal tea. Herbal teas give your glass of water a delicious flavour without adding any extra sugary flavourings. In the winter months, it serves as a nice warm pick-me-up and in summer you can add some ice to make a refreshing iced tea.
- Drink a glass after every bathroom break. Link drinking water with one of your most common daily activities – going to the bathroom. Drinking a glass of water every time you get up to use the bathroom will get you into a habit in no time.
- Set a timer on your phone for every 3 hours and when it goes off consume a glass of water. There’s nothing like your alarm screaming at you to get you into a routine.